School of Dance Guidelines for Writing Reaction Papers
You are to write a paper, at least two pages long, in response to the dance concert you have attended. The purpose of this assignment is to use written language to describe your “felt” response to choreography. You are to describe the concert as a whole, but you need only describe one or two works in detail.
The Due Date
Your course syllabus lists dates when reaction papers are due. Remember, late papers are not accepted
How To Prepare
As the date for an assigned concert approaches, your instructor will preview the performance in class. Listen for information about the choreographers and the style of dance you are about to see. Also be attentive to dance vocabulary you are learning in class. This language will help you be specific in your descriptions.
Many dance events on campus begin with a pre-performance discussion. Come to hear the choreographer tell you how he creates his work. It is wise to arrive early enough to read the program before the concert begins. Bring a pen or pencil and, as you watch the performance, list words or phrases that describe your response to each dance next to its title in the program. This is the raw material that you will use to write your paper, so capture as many feelings as possible. Notice costumes, sets and music. List all your immediate responses as they occur to you: images; action words; adjectives; metaphors. Recognize that your imagination is limitless. What you see is neither right nor wrong, but valued as your own perception.
How To Write
Before you begin your paper, review the list of words and phrases you have written in your program. As you read your notes about a dance, reflect on the images, colors and sounds of the performance. Choose the one or two dances which you remember most vividly and develop your notes about them into sentences.
Make a simple plan for your paper. Begin with an introductory paragraph which describes the concert as a whole. Next should come paragraphs describing one or two dances in detail. You paper should end with a concluding paragraph describing how you were affected by the concert. Has the concert impacted upon the way you will view future dance events, dance class, everyday movement, or life?
As you develop the paragraphs in your paper, choose language which conveys the essence of what you have seen. Dancers swoop, fall, run, laugh, shake, crouch, dive and roll. They move quickly, gracefully, softly and in hundreds of other ways. They make emotional connections, share relationships, and make patterns in space. They use the whole stage or only certain places on it.
Your detailed description of a dance should include your exploration of what the dance is about. What is the central idea? What is the mood? How is this achieved? Is there a climactic moment? How does the work build or resolve? Remember, dance is not often literal and you need not relate a story or find an interpretation. Instead, tell what you saw and what you felt.
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