Foundations of the Performing Arts: Performing Stories

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Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

China studies, theater

Important note : This program is taught by Rose Jang and Sean Williams. A bug is displaying Dawn Williams instead of Sean Williams.

This program has as its focus the ways in which people tell and adapt stories to reflect their priorities and the ways they see the world. How are stories drawn out of people? In Southeast Asia, for example, storytelling through the use of puppetry is a normal and expected part of adult interaction. In Ireland, storytelling might occur through song. In modern dance, powerful messages can be conveyed through both abstract and direct means. How are stories adopted, adapted, expressed, and reacted to across cultures? How does a biblical story turn into a bluegrass gospel tune, or a Greek myth become reinterpreted in a Brazilian film? While our words may be limited to the English language, our field is the world. The faculty for this program have extensive experience living and studying outside the United States, and bring multiple perspectives and ways of seeing the world to bear in our collective exploration.

Students should expect a performance component and also a strong emphasis on the written word. In many cases, stories take life only when they leave the page and find expression in the performing arts. In other cases, a vision that is expressed through the arts may develop deeper meaning through its adaptation to the written word. In all cases, however, interpretation is an essential go-between, and our roles as interpreters form an important part of the objects of study.

In fall, we will begin with the roots of some of the world’s essential stories from multiple cradles of civilization: Greece, the Middle East, China, West Africa, and elsewhere. In winter, we will focus more specifically on writing stories based on what we have come to know. Working collaboratively with our colleagues, we will engage in small, in-house performances of adaptations of these stories.

Because we work in multiple media (including sound, film, and the body, as well as the pen and computer), all students are expected to work with aspects of performance regularly in the program. We will watch, we will move, we will write, and we will make music; we will also examine what we have seen and done through seminars and in-class discussions. How would you render a work of Shakespeare in song? How would you turn a film into a poem, a dance into a play, a prophecy into a book?

Program Details

Fields of Study

anthropology music theater

Preparatory For

anthropology, dance, music, and theater



Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First winter class meeting: Monday, January 8 at 10am (Com 107-Recital Hall)

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning


$10 in fall and winter for performance tickets.


2018-01-22Winter fee reduced (from $32 to $10).
2018-01-16Winter fee added ($32).
2017-10-23Winter fee cancelled ($300).
2017-09-29Fall fee added ($10).
2017-05-23This program is now offered for 12 or 16 credits.
2017-02-22New title! Former title: Performing Stories Through Music, Dance, and Theater.
2016-10-05This program is now lower division (Freshmen and Sophomores).