Academics
Departments and Courses

Dance

With a rigorous program of training, supplemented by performance opportunities, the Dance Department seeks to serve the needs of the serious dance student and to entice the uninitiated into an adventure of discovery in motion art. We encourage students to explore many different styles of dance to enhance their understanding of this beautiful art form. Students will be placed in the appropriate level class after an initial trial period. The dance faculty represents a wide range of approaches to dance and to different dance forms. All movement classes grant both a physical education and an arts credit.
 
Technique classes develop essential skills and grow more rigorous as students become more proficient. Boys, as well as girls, are encouraged to try a beginning technique class; no experience in dance is necessary. In the first year of training, students develop the basic skills of technique: proficiency in picking up simple movement patterns; awareness of rhythms; strength in the legs, stomach, and back; and proper alignment of the spine so that it serves as a balanced center for the dynamic flow of movement. Intermediate students are expected to know the movement vocabulary taught at CSW. In modern it is largely Cunningham-influenced and in jazz it incorporates elements of Latin, hip-hop, funk and theatre dance. As students’ training progresses, they continue to develop speed, agility and quickness in picking up combinations, as well as sensitivity to rhythm and phrasing. Most modern technique classes are taught in conjunction with professional musicians who assist students in developing musicality.
  • Advanced Dance Technique

    Dance Technique focuses on modern and contemporary vocabularies that enhance the artistic and physical prowess of the dancer. Students are placed in appropriate levels of beginning, intermediate, or advanced depending on their level of training. All three levels explore the same content of technique training but at different accelerated paces. Classes are designed to introduce the technical study of dance movement to students of levels beginning through advanced. The style and technique explored is determined by the individual instructor and the dance chair. Students new to CSW who desire to be placed in the intermediate or advanced level must receive the permission of the Dance Department chair.
  • All That Jazz

    This course is a jazz dance class taught to live music provided by CSW’s jazz ensemble. Students will expand their knowledge of jazz, America’s first art form, through the integrated study of movement and music composition. Dancers will focus on the rhythmic patterns that are created through the influence of such jazz genres as swing, blues, bebop, and jazz-fusion, among others. Such terms as syncopated rhythms, body isolations, improvisation, high level of energy, and low center of gravity will be practiced as movement qualities that are direct derivatives of jazz music. Jazz ensemble will learn to perform jazz standards in a group setting. Emphasis will be on establishing a repertoire, building skills in improvisation, and performance.
  • Beginning Dance Technique

    Dance Technique focuses on modern and contemporary vocabularies that enhance the artistic and physical prowess of the dancer. Students are placed in appropriate levels of beginning, intermediate, or advanced depending on their level of training. All three levels explore the same content of technique training but at different accelerated paces. Classes are designed to introduce the technical study of dance movement to students of levels beginning through advanced. The style and technique explored is determined by the individual instructor and the dance chair. Students new to CSW who desire to be placed in the intermediate or advanced level must receive the permission of the Dance Department chair.
  • Caribbean Dance Movement

    This course is an introduction to the popular dances performed throughout the Caribbean. The focus of the class is to understand the indigenous people who dance the rhythms of the New World islands, including Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico. We begin with an anthropological approach to the dances using the research footage conducted by the late dance anthropologist Katherine Dunham. Students will learn both traditional/ceremonial and social dances of the countries mentioned above. Students will dance the Yanvalou from Haiti, and the Bomba of Puerto Rico, and the most popular movements such as the Rumba, Salsa, and the Bachata that come from the clave rhythm.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement. 
  • Contact Improvisation

    Contact Improvisation (CI) is a dance form in which partners tune their attention to and follow a point of physical contact with one another. Following the point of contact leads partners further into their dancing as they explore the creative possibilities of touch, weight sharing, and spontaneous collaboration within the forces of physics. CI facilitates an observation of, and inquiry into, functional-mechanical possibilities of our bodies, and invites (necessitates) an exploration of relationship. Through developing our capacity for and interest in physical listening and collaboration, we lay the foundation for increased risk taking as dancers. We allow ourselves to become less fearful of falling, lifting or being lifted. We open up new physical pathways and movement qualities; and devise strategies for becoming creatively “unstuck.”
  • Cultural Studies in Dance

    In this class we will explore the relationship of “culture” and “dance” and the ways the study of one informs our understanding of the other. We will take a non-comprehensive survey of dance in varied geographic and cultural contexts ranging from East Asia through the Americas. Our readings, viewings, and discussions will examine culture and history have shaped movement qualities  all over the world. As a complement to these larger scale considerations we will use movement explorations to reflect on our individual relationships to place, history and community.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation requirement. 
  • Dance Concert Performance

    The Dance Concert Performance course is designed for all dancers who are potential performers for the annual Dance Concert. The dancer may be working in a group piece with another choreographer or creating a solo. All participants in this course are required to make all of the rehearsals called by their choreographer and to learn the movement on their own. It is up to the entire group with the choreographer to determine the actual times of the rehearsals and the weekly schedule. Each dancer is also required to be a part of the Selection Day process at which that specific dance may be considered for the concert. Once Selection Day is passed, the dancer is required to be part of the show’s overall stage production in some capacity (lighting, dressing room duty, theatre custodial cleanup, makeup and costume shop, etc.).
  • Dance Conditioning (T,F)

    This class is for anyone who seeks to develop the flexibility and strength for which dancers are known. The course will incorporate some Pilates, yoga, and traditional dance exercises. Those who don’t study dance, but who want to get into shape, will be able to work in a very relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere.
  • Dance Repertory Project (M,W)

    This course is open to the serious, conscientious student who aspires to make dance a career. Students who participate must make a commitment to the rigorous structure of this class. Dance students will participate in the creation of a new dance work by choreographer and Department Chair Nailah Randall-Bellinger and/or a guest artist. Rehearsals for this piece will be scheduled after D Blocks and on weekends, with the goal of performing the work at the annual Student Dance Concert.
  • Dance Repertory Project (T,F)

    This course is open to the serious, conscientious student who aspires to make dance a career. Students who participate must make a commitment to the rigorous structure of this class. Dance students will participate in the creation of a new dance work by choreographer and Department Chair Nailah Randall-Bellinger and/or a guest artist. Rehearsals for this piece will be scheduled after D Blocks and on weekends, with the goal of performing the work at the annual Student Dance Concert.
  • Dance, Media, and Technology

    The integration of dance, media, and technology extends the language of choreography and performance, enabling artists to express themselves in new contexts. Through both theory and practice, this class introduces the emergence of new trends in the world of dance having to do with new technologies. We focus on “screen dance,” an experimental art genre started in the 1950s, which is burgeoning today with the proliferation of digital technology (low-cost cameras, editing software) and populist broadcast/distribution vehicles (YouTube). A “screen dance” is a dance that exists on the screen alone, and nowhere else. We also explore the integration of media with live dance performance using new technologies (video manipulation programs, 3D motion tracking/capture programs, the internet, and communication devices). Class time is split between the computer lab and the dance studio.
  • Experiments in Movement

    This course is an active, laboratory approach to experimenting with movement in today’s digital age. We will experiment with use of social media, the Internet, cameras, messaging, and other devices to invent street dances, dance videos, alternative flash mobs, participatory events, and installations having to do with movement and/or dance. The first half of the course is focused on specific problem solving assignments, and then it opens up to become a guided independent study, where students design and implement their own movement experiments. The course welcomes non-dancers, artists, scientists, techies, linguists, historians, as well as dancers at all levels.
  • Hip Hop Dance

    Explore the history, evolution, and physicality of hip hop dance styles. This course will raise awareness of the roots of hip hop dance and its transformation over the years through high energy, expressive movement, and the cultural impact it has had on the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Hip Hop Dance (M,W)

    Explore the history, evolution, and physicality of hip hop dance styles. This course will raise awareness of the roots of hip hop dance and its transformation over the years through high energy, expressive movement, and the cultural impact it has had on the 20th and 21st centuries.
     
  • Independent Choreography

    This course is designed for the experienced dancer who is interested in deepening their skills as a dancemaker. Over the course of the mod the student will work independently to develop their own choreographic voice. The instructor will meet with the student to determine the exact project and provide guidelines to reaching individual goals. The instructor will then occasionally drop in on the dancer’s rehearsals to observe the progress and discuss the process, offering suggestions to improve their approach to moving through space in relation to time and energy.
  • Intermediate Ballet

    This course is designed for students who have had at least one year of ballet class experience. Students from the previous mod usually continue on in this class to increase their knowledge of the ballet formation of the body. While the level of the students enrolled in the class does vary, the class is designed to first review the rudiments of the codified classical dance form and then learn to perform more complicated phrasing of the barre and center exercises that lend themselves to a more contemporary use of ballet. The students will study and work on modern ballet movement studies that explore the endless use of this dance form. Students will work on the positioning of the arms (port au bras), proper alignment, transferring of weight, and the fluidity and graceful movement through space. This class is a pass or fail credited course, thus the final grade is mostly dependent on attendance.
  • Intermediate Dance Technique

    Dance Technique focuses on modern and contemporary vocabularies that enhance the artistic and physical prowess of the dancer. Students are placed in appropriate levels of beginning, intermediate, or advanced depending on their level of training. All three levels explore the same content of technique training but at different accelerated paces. Classes are designed to introduce the technical study of dance movement to students of levels beginning through advanced. The style and technique explored is determined by the individual instructor and the dance chair. Students new to CSW who desire to be placed in the intermediate or advanced level must receive the permission of the Dance Department chair.
     
  • Introduction to the Art of Ballet

    This course considers ballet as a historically located and culturally specific art form. Beginning with an exploration of its origins and early development, we continue with an investigation of the aesthetic and thematic choices that are shared among canonical, well-loved productions and which now comprise the classical form. We explore these elements as either deliberately designed by individual innovators or reflective of social, economic, and political changes. In this way, we revisit ballet aesthetics as non-inevitable and open to questioning. Our coursework includes a brief physical practice of ballet technique, visual analysis of selected works, and text based discussions.
  • Motion Art

    This course is a creative movement class designed to introduce the novice dancer to dance in a comfortable learning environment while allowing the experienced dancer to further develop their choreographic tool box. Both novice and experienced dancers will explore and develop creative thinking skills, useful to the learning process. We will look at the different impetus of motion that can be initiated by the stimulus of sound and imagery, as well as external energy forces outside of the kinesthetic realm of the body. The course relies heavily on improvisation as a primary tool for finding one’s own authentic movement quality and is structured to liberate the way we move through space and communicate with each other by freeing up habitual patterns that may be restricting our unconscious and kinesthetic flow of energy. Throughout the mod there will be visiting guest artists who will guide us through their artistic lens to help us explore the dynamics of motion on varying levels.
  • Movement Improvisation/Moving Your Way

    The Movement Improvisation course introduces students to improvisation as a tool for creation and performance, and as a means to develop students’ creative problem-solving skills. The course utilizes improvisational exercises from various art disciplines (dance, theatre, visual art, music) and introduces students to principles of time and space. Through the course, students develop their awareness of self and the other, their sense of freedom and possibility, and a sense of their unique movement style. The course draws upon selected readings, class discussions, selected videos, and personal reflection. Movement Improvisation is a module designed to develop dance improvisation skills and explores movement through space from a variety of influences. Dancers are asked to create constructive critiques of their own as well as each other’s movement qualities. Dancers must be open to creating a safe, creative space for developing their creative voice. This is a movement class that will develop kinesthetic skills as well as creative and critical thinking. Students will also be introduced to contact improvisation.
  • Moving Yoga Dance

    This course compares the elements of dance movement to the practice of the yoga asanas. It is designed to introduce the student to the Vinyasa flow of yoga. The sun salutations A and B sequencing (asanas-positions) will be taught as a means to encourage students to open up, lengthen, and relax their physical body and mental state of being. The final project of the class will be a choreographed dance that incorporates the Vinyasa flow.
  • Open Ballet

    An open ballet E block class.
  • West African Dance

    The content of this course gives an introduction to basic West African movement, rhythms, and songs. Each class begins with a warm-up to prepare the body for this particular style of movement, followed by movements across the floor, and finally work on specific dances. Students will learn several dances from West Africa, primarily from Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, and the Senegambia regions. Classes are accompanied by live drumming, giving the students the opportunity to understand the unique connection between polyrhythmic timing and the body in motion. While the class focuses on the dances of West Africa it is also a means for understanding the culture of the people.

    This course awards credit toward the social justice graduation credit.

Department Faculty

  • Nailah Randall-Bellinger

    Dance Department Chair/Dance Teacher
    781-642-8657
    Lesley University - M.A.
    Scripps College - B.A.
    Year Appointed: 2011
  • Matthew Hooper

    Dance Teacher
    University of the Arts - B.F.A.
    Year Appointed: 2015
  • Jeryl Pilapil

    Dance Teacher
    Year Appointed: 2015
The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.