Dance Elements and Vocabulary

Materials: Read chapter 8, the Dance Elements and Vocabulary, and the Background readings on Martha Graham before completing this discussion assignment.

Note about outside sources: outside sources are NOT allowed for this assignment. You may only use the materials provided within MyCourses and from the textbook.

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Required Minimum Word Count: This assignment requires a minimum of 600 words, excluding any quoted material. An accurate word count must be included in the heading.


First, carefully watch all of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, 1944. When viewing the performance be an active participant, don’t be a passive consumer. Work as hard at viewing the piece as the Graham did making the work. During the performance, there are many things to consider: What style of dance is it? Is the performance experimental or conventional? What are the cultural implications of the performance? How do elements of the performance, such as lighting, scenery, and costume, enhance the choreography? How did the performance make you feel?

Second, complete the following:

In the FIRST paragraph:

Offer your interpretation of what the performance was about. Start your paragraph with the following phrase: “Appalachian Spring is about_______” and offer specific examples from the performance that support your assertion. To develop your interpretation think about the following:

What were the themes of performance?
What were the Graham’s intentions and were they successfully communicated?
What kind of symbolism did Graham use?
How did the design elements (lighting, costume, setting) support the performance and the themes?

In the SECOND paragraph:

Analyze the formal qualities of the performance using the Dance Elements and Vocabulary page. You must address the elements of space, time, and energy and incorporate at least 4 other terms from the vocabulary section. Think about the following:
Did the choreography flow?
What were the dynamics?
How did it move in space and what were the motivations for the movements?
Make general comments but also include detailed descriptions. Try to give at least one specific movement image. Example: “In another vignette, a woman seated properly, perpendicularly, on a bench, begins to tilt at an angle. As her legs leave the floor and her torso leans to the side, both she and the bench seem to levitate a little above the floor.” (List of questions is adapted from guidelines here.

In the THIRD paragraph:

Reflect on your reaction to the performance. What thoughts or feelings did the performance evoke? How did you understand the story? How does it compare with other dance performances you’ve seen? Do you have a deeper appreciation of dance as a form of art after this module? What impact did this experience have on you?

Fourth, proofread your work carefully. Tips on how to proofread effectively can be found here.


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