Five College Professor Emerita of Dance
Professor Hill has taught at the Alvin Ailey School of American Dance, Conservatoire d'arts Dramatique in Paris, and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. As a choreographer, director, and mask specialist, she has worked with the French playwright Eugene Ionesco; Czech scenographer Josef Svoboda; Romanian director Liviu Ciulei, and Toni Morrison on her play Dreaming Emmett, directed by Gilbert Moses. Her writings have appeared in such publications as Dance Magazine, Village Voice, Dance Research Journal, Studies in Dance History; Discourses in Dance, and in such edited anthologies as Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance; Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African-American Dance; Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader; Taken By Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader, and Kaiso! Writings By and About Katherine Dunham. Her book, Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers(2000) received the Deems Taylor ASCAP Award; and her most recent book, Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (2010), for which she received the Tap Preservation Award from the American Tap Dance Foundation, was supported by grants from the John D. Rockefeller and John Simon Guggenheim foundations.
As a Five College Professor of Dance at Hampshire College, Professor Hill teaches courses in dance history, performance theory, jazz studies, choreography on camera, and feminist performance; and is working with her colleagues to establish a black studies core curriculum.
As dance concentrators or enthusiasts, how many full-length ballets/dance works have you seen, become familiar with, been influenced by? Five? Ten? This course, which focuses on "dance visual literacy," challenges us to view 100 full-length dance works, for the express purpose of deepening awareness to the legacy of major twentieth-century choreographies. Balancing quantity with quality, these viewings will develop and sharpen the skills needed for looking at and writing about dance, as we experiment with different modes of descriptive, analytical, and critical writing; tooling the skills needed to synthesize the reality of the performance with its poetic or cultural resonance. Many works chosen have been created or influenced by Five College dance faculty, thus enabling us to glean the choreographic genealogy that is being passed on to you as a Five College dancer.
Yoga, from the Sanskrit root "yuj," meaning "to join," is the union or reintegration of the individual self (Atman) with the higher self (Brahman); it is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline that involves breath control, meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures that teach a person to experience inner peace by controlling body and mind. What better way to enter Hampshire College than to engage with the philosophy and practice of yoga, which will deepen concentration and cultivate mindfulness. This class takes place in the auspicious space of the traditional Raja Hatha yoga class that begins with chanting pranayam (breathing techniques), and a Dharma talk (touching on the philosophical aspects of yoga), and continues with asana and mediation practices. No prior experience necessary.
Embellishing upon Ralph Ellison's astute remark that much in American life is "jazz shaped," this course examines the influence of black musical traditions on American dance concert dance. We will focus on the relationship between jazz music and dance, looking at how jazz rhythm, improvisation, call-and-response patterning and elements of swing altered the line, attack, speed, weight, and phrasing of contemporary dance forms. Learning how to listen to the music will be crucial to recognizing how jazz became the motive and method for shaping a distinctly black modernist aesthetic. We will focus in large part on the jazzographies of Alvin Ailey and his contemporaries. Ailey collaborated with such various classically-trained jazz musicians as Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Alice Coltrane, Mary Lou Williams, and Keith Jarrett, but the bulk of his so-called jazz works were created to the music by Duke Ellington. While we will survey dance works created by numerous choreographers to the music of the blues, swing, bebop, cool jazz, and hard bop, we will also look at vocal choreographies to rhythm and blues (Motown) as well as to hip hop and jukin', whose roots lie in the jazz tradition.