Dancing Dragons in London: Culture and Aesthetics

This week brought us a rather stark change of pace. After six weeks of being so engaged in the creative process and intense dance classes, we sharply returned to sitting in lectures. For anyone, getting back into the swing of normal classes can be difficult after any break, but for us dancers it can be a little bit extra painful (literally). Our bodies had barely recovered from the intensive to now sitting in a desk for two three hour classes.

On Monday, after our FIE orientation, we had our first British Food and Culture session. We talked about our personal interests in food and society and our personal eating habits or preferences with food. It was an interesting gateway into the class- to have the opportunity to learn about each other and each other’s background with foods, and then to be able to connect that later to the development of food culture in Britain.

This class contains many interactive and exploratory elements that will give us a real life connection to what we are learning about, which I believe will really enhance being abroad and taking this course in London.

Our second course for these last four weeks is our Dance Aesthetics and Criticism class, taught by none other than our very own Performing Arts Department Head, Dr. Miriam Giguere. Miriam flew here from Drexel this weekend to teach this course as part of the Drexel Dance in London program. We were all extra excited for her to come to London because not only is she one of our favorite professors from home, but also our mom away from home, even when we are at Drexel!

This course is focused on critiquing dance performance using the language we have learned thus far in order to talk about dance from both an objective and constructive viewpoint. We will explore how personal history, experience, perception, fundamental philosophies, and many other elements affect the way that people watch and witness dance performances.

Our class discussions thus far have involved meaning versus artist’s intent and how that can affect the work. Stemming from that, we contemplated the ideas of human perceptions and how communication can vary with each experience. We discussed anything having meaning at all, and the discussion quickly became very meta.

Accompanying this course is the textbook, Metaphors We Live By, which allows us to draw connections to the symbolic nature of dance and movement, and gain new perspective from a highly philosophical viewpoint.

Taking this course fresh out of the choreography and technique intensives is a very unique experience because our brains are still partly in that highly creative mode, so we are able to discuss and watch dance in a special way.

We will also have the opportunity to see two dance performances in London which will inform our artistic minds and enhance our London experiences.

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