COMPOSITION I - DANC 2210 - 3 credits - TR 2:30-3:45 - RH 103
Paul Zmolek
Examination into the fundamentals of choreographic craft through solo and small group composition. Includes the ongoing process of exploration into Body, Space, Time, Energy, and Form through improvisational and structured skills activities.


  • To develop better understanding and control of your body as an instrument of expression through the art of dance.
  • To develop your skills as a choreographer through the examination of various compositional and aesthetic theories
  • To expand your experience and vision as to the “expressive potentialities” of the art medium of dance.
  • To nurture original movement invention.
  • To develop observational skills when viewing dance as an art form.
  • To develop critical thinking skills through the exchange of ideas and through the discussion of each others work.
  • To be responsible to the group as dancer, performer, choreographer, colleague, teacher and student supporting a safe environment from which to work. In order to learn, you must be willing to attempt new and challenging activities without fear of failure and be supportive of your classmates.


    We will begin with a review of the elements of dance: body, space, energy, time and form through structured improvisations followed by assigned compositional studies.You will be responsible for a compositional study each class meeting. KEEP IN MIND, these are not to be viewed as complete choreographies (although they can lead to that) or great works of art, rather as compositional exercises intended to assist in the honing of your skills as a choreographer and to give you a more thorough understanding of the craft.

    For your compositional studies, I will give you a strict rubric with which to work from. STAY WITHIN THE GUIDELINES OF THE RUBRIC. These rubrics force you to deal with the “problem” at hand and to simplify choices. The operative words are problem solving and movement invention; avoid the confines of an established movement vocabulary (i.e. steer clear of movements you have learned in technique class: create your own voice). How to do this? Respond directly, both intellectually and kinesthetically, to the parameters of your rubric.

    The studies will most always be very short phrases allowing for more discussion and possible manipulations. Be prepared to discuss your material: all your work must have intent and you must know why you made certain choices in response to the given problem.

    As the class progreses, we will be focusing upon form and groupo choreography. You will be required to secure dancers who will be able to perform your choreography in class.

    You will also be responsible for assigned readings, and music listening. Your responses to these should be reflected in your journal. Time permitting, the course will explore other areas relevant to choreography: sound, costuming, props and sets, lighting, multi-media, etc.


  1. You must keep a journal. As an artist, and especially a choreographer, you should be examining the world around you with which to make art; constantly write down your observations; include your reflections on assigned readings; notate your choreographic assignments. Take this journal with you EVERYWHERE, writing at least two, three times a day if not more. I will periodically ask for them therefore be prepared to spontaneously hand them in.
  2. You are required to present a total of 6 music analyses (go to assignments for due dates). Your analysis may be in linear or non-linear form-do not get hung up on different time signatures, etc. unless they are of importance to the overall impact of the work.
  3. Have assignments completed on time (choreography, journal, readings, music analyses). Stay involved with your process. Stay committed to the time line and you'll be able to get more out of class. You are responsible for having your dancers prepared and reaady to perform.
  4. Attend each class on time, ready to work and participate fully from beginning to end. You are responsible for your own warm-up before class begins. I expect regular attendance. Absences will negatively impact your growth, both intellectually and physically and ultimately reflect in your grade.
  5. Participate in discussions: creative and critical. You’re perceptions are valid and valued. As artists, we need the skills of presenting and defending our ideas through the use of thoughtful, articulate and eloquent language.
  6. Final informal studio showing (to be arranged).
  7. Final examination, Friday May 6, 10:00-12:00 pm. This will be a post-mortem discussion of the informal showing.
  8. Performance Critique. A two page typewritten critical description of what you saw and experienced is required. You will need to attach your ticket stub and program to the report. All papers must be typed. I will not accept handwritten or late papers.
  • NOTE: All papers must be original. Quotes and paraphrased ideas must be properly footnoted. Any student caught plagiarizing or purchasing a paper from an outside source (i.e., Internet) will receive an "F" for the course.
Journal 60
Compositional Studies 70
Music Analyses 60
Performance Critique 10
Discussion 70
Final Showing & Examination 30
Total 300
300-270 = A
269-239 = B
238-208 = C
207-167 = D
166-000 = F
A=exceptional work, demonstrating consistently excellent performance in terms of skill, growth, participation, attendance, theoretical and aesthetic understanding.
B= very good to outstanding work most of the time demonstrating a high degree of excellence in performance in terms of skill, growth, participation, attendance, theoretical and aesthetic understanding, particularly as the term progresses.
C=fundamental mastery of skill, steady growth, good participation, appropriate attendance, basic theoretical and aesthetic understanding.
D=performance marred by lapses in attendance, attention, attitude or missing course work.
F=performance interrupted by significant absence or failure to complete expected course work.