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DANC 494: Senior Choreographers' Project



F/11:30am-2pm, PAC #136

Instructor: Cynthia DuFault


Office Hours: Weds,11am-3pm



In this course, students will be encouraged to embody various manipulations of movement and composition through site, body, energy, action, space, shape, and time. The process will include generating subject material, investigating its possibilities, clarifying intention, experimenting with multiple elements of producing a concert, giving and receiving feedback, reflecting on the experience, and gaining understanding and confidence about creative work within a safe yet challenging environment. 



Students will be provided with opportunities to:

  • explore and discover the full potential of ability under the guidance of the faculty,

  • preserve a grand appreciation of dance as an art form,

  • demonstrate personal ownership of creative work,

  • advance and further develop creativity and critical thinking capacities pertaining to movement and composition,

  • have a clearer sense of musicality through time and qualitative dynamics,

  • understand the intention of a compositional work and how it relates to sound, costume, and lighting design,

  • have a clearer sense of the rehearsal process and how to manage cast members, collaborating designers, and the technical crew from auditions to the final performance,

  • practice professionalism (self-responsibility, positive/inquisitive attitude, respect toward others, versatility, awareness, and investigation of individual strengths and weaknesses),

  • practice leadership, maximizing the efforts of others in a positive, supportive, and inclusive manner toward achieving goals,

  • interact with other choreographers and dancers, creating a shared experience of creative work,

  • participate in the process of giving, receiving, and incorporating feedback from peers and the faculty,

  • critically evaluate in writing one’s personal development through the creative process.



​​ Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • create a live concert dance work that will be adjudicated for SCC (or) presented in the Informal Dance Concert,

  • gain a hands-on experience and understanding of a real-world audition-to-performance experience,

  • demonstrate consistent exploration and growth toward composition, collaboration, and organization,

  • understand the components of choreographic devices and their application toward movement possibilities,

  • develop a personal movement style choreographically, 

  • demonstrate the ability to create more complex movement sequences toward a cohesive intention,

  • demonstrate through choreographic work movement with sensitivity to performance and full-bodied commitment,

  • demonstrate an improved ability in using the body choreographically as an instrument of artistic expression,

  • serve roles both as a choreographer and as a supportive and inclusive leader.

  • understand the importance of self-discipline and self-motivation in the continual effort to improve individual performance and enhanced satisfaction in dance as a performing art form,

  • recognize, discuss, and critically appraise composition and its relationship to the other art forms, including its current evolution in the last few years,

  • analyze and discuss personal artistic growth through instructor and peer feedback,

  • critically analyze and demonstrate the creative process in a critique essay,

  • apply skills learned to choreograph in a professional setting with confidence.



(75%) – Produce and present a live concert dance work 

  • See Class Link for online details and deadlines.

(5%) – Present works-in-progress 

  • Most classes will be dedicated to showings and discussions about works in progress.

  • The Class Forum is also provided, where students will post videos of works-in-progress and receive feedback, ask questions, and converse about ideas. 


Forum requirements: 

  • Film the work-in-progress during the showings and post it here on the

  •  Class Forum.

  • Write a description of the work, including, as it becomes apparent, a working title, costume, sound/music, lighting designs, etc., but do NOT describe a story about your piece except 1-4 words (like a title). It is for your audience to determine what THEY see and feel. 

  • Ask questions regarding what the audience may see as an intention of the work – what they see will decipher if your intention is coming across,

  • Ask for specific notes – example: What color do you see in lighting or costumes when you watch this work? Should ‘X’ structural format be reversed or remain the same? How can I get ‘X’ dancer to perform with more sense of expression?

  • Go to Elements of Dance Creating and Critiquing and for creative process references.

  • Submissions are due by Friday at 5pm after each showing.


(5%) – Give peer feedback

  • The Class Forum is provided for students to post peer feedback on works-in-progress, as well. 


Forum requirements: 

  • Write feedback to each choreographer about works-in-process and submit it by Friday at midnight after each showing. Each choreographer will post a video version to review details closely.

  • Go to the Elements of Dance Creating and Critiquing for writing critiques references. This link also includes Choreographic Device references.


(15%) – Write a reflective essay answering the following questions:

  1. Describe how you proceeded in a sense of trajectory and embodied cohesion as you created your work.

  2. Analyze the research, creative process, and gained knowledge that the project served in terms of your growth as a choreographer. 

  3. Interpret the feedback/critiques given to you both from the faculty and your peers. 

  4. Evaluate the outcome of the project, a rating of your overall practice, and how these results may affect future approaches to dance-making.


Format requirements: 



  • Students are allowed 2 unexcused absences for the semester. Each additional unexcused absence will lower the final letter grade by one (1) grade-point as implemented by the Department of Theatre and Dance Attendance Policy. 

  • Qualified excused absences include religious holy days (advanced notice is required); family emergencies (contact the instructor ASAP by e-mail if traveling out of town and factual documentation of the emergency is required upon return); serious illness or medical emergencies (factual documentation/doctor’s note is required upon return); a university-sponsored event such as band trips, sports team events, school conferences, etc. (advanced notice is required and documentation signed by the school coordinator is required). Students must provide appropriate documentation for any additional University sanctioned event for it to be excused.

  • Students are responsible for missed work due to excused absences. Make-up work is permissible ONLY for excused absences, and it is the responsibility of the student to contact the instructor.



No text is required for this course. All written materials for this course are on



This in-person course will be taught during class time in the studio. Students are also expected to hold rehearsals outside of class to produce work. Please refer to the Studio Safety Guidelines as well as the link to book a rehearsal space.



Information about safety facts and policies related to SUNY Potsdam:



Refer to this link to book a rehearsal space.



No gum, food, or beverages are permitted in the dance studios/theatres, except water in an enclosed container. Turn off/mute and pack away your cell phone, iWatch, and any other electronic devices before class begins. Discussing topic-related observations is welcomed in class but unrelated side conversations are discouraged.




This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to change with advanced notice.


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