Spring 2022 - CA 124 D100

Dance Improvisation and Composition (3)

Class Number: 7661

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    GCA 4750, GOLDCORP



Selected dance improvisational skills will be explored in a variety of solo, duet, small group and large group forms through structured movement themes. Emphasis will be on sensory awareness, elements of movement, and composition. Recommended: dance or theatre experience. Students with credit for FPA 124 may not take this course for further credit.


Working as a collective, this class will focus on tools and techniques to expand our capacity as movers and choreographers through the practice of improvisation and composition. We will develop a greater awareness of our physical instincts and perception of compositional elements. The course will focus on three specific areas:

  • Expanding Vocabulary
  • Scores
  • Real Time Composition
Expanding vocabulary meaning discovering our habitual movement instincts and patterns and finding new ways to sense untapped physical initiations and dynamics. We will explore scores as a way into building architectures and parameters that help free our imagination and perception and reveal compositional structures and potential strategies for performance. We will build our skill base in these areas into real-time composition. Real-time composition exercises allow us to tap into body thinking and sensing composition when improvising -developing awareness within the body and of the whole picture from the outside. The course will include a basic movement practice, techniques in viewpoints, improvisation, composition exercises, use of text, sound and images. Readings and short writing assignments will be assigned periodically. Students are also required to keep a work journal with weekly reflections on the process.


  • Participation 50%
  • Assignments 25%
  • Short Papers 15%
  • Work Journal 10%


Participation: Active participation in all aspects of the class is required. We want to work as a collective. It is expected that each student stay focused in the work throughout the class. This is particularly challenging in longer improvisation scores. The energy, attitude, working process, investment in class both physical and mental, and contributions to class discussions are the most important elements of your evaluation. Be appropriately dressed, warmed up and ready to go.

Assignments short papers: You will be working on solo and with different size groups on in-class assignments. You will also be given some readings and critical reflection short papers throughout the semester.
Work Journal: You are required to keep a journal for this class, which you will turn in at different times throughout the semester. You should use this as a tool for each project and keep regular written reactions and evaluations, questions that come up, images, drawings, etc.

* Attendance: Attendance will be one means of determining your participation percentage. You will be allowed 2 absences without an effect to your grade. Two late marks equal one absence.



Anne Blom, Lynne and Chaplin Tarin. The Intimate Act of Choreography.

Lynne Anne Blom and L Tarin Chaplin.  The Moment of Movement:  Dance Improvisation

Bernstein, Michele and Robert. Sparks of Genius

Bogart, Anne and Tina Landau. The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition

Buckwater, Melinda. Composing while Dancing:  An Improviser’s Companion

Burrows Jonathan. A Choreographers Handbook

Cooper Albright, Ann and David Gere (Editors). Taken by Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader

De Spain Kent.  Landscape of the Now:  A Topography of Movement Improvisation

Fidaeliro, Joao. Real Time Composition by at: http://joaofiadeiromenugb.blogspot.ca

Goldman Danielle. I Want to Be Ready: Improvised Dance as a Practice of Freedom

Johnson, Darla. The Art of Listening: Intuition & Improvisation in Choreography

Lepecki, Andre. Planes of Composition: Dance, Theory, and the Global

Morgenroth Joyce.  Dance Improvisations

Nachmanovitch. Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts.

Nagrin, Daniel. Improvisation and the Specific Image.

Novack, Cynthia. Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and American Culture.

Shaw, Ben. The Shape of Content.

Tharp, Twyla. The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life.

Vargas, Mike. 86 Aspects of Composition: http://www.mikevargas.net/documents/86%20Aspects.pdf

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.