Please Wait a Moment

Modern Dance Theory and Composition

Against a black background on stage, a female dancer holdsanother dancer on her shoulders while other dancers crouch down on the stage behind them

Professor: Marty Sprague

Tuition: $310 member / $385 non-member

6 Weeks; 1.5 NDEO-Endorsed PDCs

Feb. 12 - March 24, 2024

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In this course, we will engage in research and reflection on the following questions: As a teacher, what long term dance learning or enduring understanding do you wish to pass on to your students regarding modern dance? As a choreographer, do you know the lineage, from where your personal expressive style is rooted and developed, of your modern dance style? As a performer, how can an understanding of modern dance styles aid in clarity of execution in repertory pieces? From where do we develop our personal movement preferences and expressive capabilities? What or who has influenced these preferences and capabilities? Even if you are a “rebel”, as opposed to one devoted to passing on a legacy, you need to know from what or whom you are rebelling. By applying a known family genealogy, one is given a deeper sense of identity and so knowing the modern dance historical genealogy gives a deeper sense of one’s place in the modern dance world and thereby improve one’s dance products and students’ training experience.

Book required:  Legg, Joshua. (2011). Introduction to Modern Dance Techniques. Hightstown, NJ: Princeton Book Company Publishers.

Questions about this Course?  Email

Past Student Testimonials

" It fleshed out my knowledge and helped me to consider the relevance and importance of historical knowledge and how it might be useful for students. "

" This course helped me to research my modern dance lineage and to figure out what movement preferences I have. I really liked the feedback from the instructor and the peers in the class especially the ones that have more extensive modern dance training."

" I liked being able to retrace my lineage and in doing so helped me to better define modern to my students."

"This course was more challenging than I expected which I believe is a good thing. I liked all the reflecting and peer feedback that we were given. about the history of American Modern Dance."

"It has helped define my connection to the modern dance genre, improve my confidence in teaching its history to my students, and inform the way I will teach modern dance technique and create choreography in the future."

Professor Bio

Marty Sprague has over 45 years of experience in dance education (early childhood through higher education), holds an MA, in Dance Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BFA in Dance from Boston Conservatory. She has been involved in program, curriculum, professional, and policy development. She has written and reviewed standards at the district, state and national levels. Marty is co-author, with Helene Scheff and Susan McGreevy-Nichols, of six dance text and resource books (including online content for the textbook). Marty has served on the editorial board for Arts Education Policy Review and JODE. She served on the Dance Writing Team for the NCCAS Dance Standards. Currently, Marty is a course writer and an instructor for NDEO’s OPDI, a Moving For Life Certified Instructor (pending), and is President of Dance Alliance of RI. She has joined the Rhode Island Arts and Health Network Steering Committee to advance the role of Arts in the well-being of all Rhode Islanders. Marty teaches OPDI-112 Implementing the National Core Arts Standards in Dance; OPDI-115: Dance Integration: Re-envisioning the Creative Process; OPDI-M13: Modern Dance Theory and Composition; OPDI-M18: Intro to Choreography in Dance Education: A Process to Teach Students How to Create Dances, and OPDI-M19: Dance Stagecraft and Production.

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