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DNCE 1017 Dance and Popular Culture

Instructor Contact:

Rachel Oliver


Instructor bio:

Rachel Oliver is a contemporary, interdisciplinary dancer, choreographer and movement instructor. She graduated with a double major in biochemistry and dance from Beloit College and an MFA in Dance at CU Boulder as an Arts and Sciences Fellow. While at CU, Rachel worked with the You & Me Performance Project and performed as a guest artist with Missoula’s Bare Bait Dance Co. Her choreography has premiered in Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado. Rachel has taught and danced throughout the United States, and is excited to dive into the world of online teaching.

About the Course:

Dance & Popular Culture explores and contextualizes contemporary popular culture and dance against the backdrop of the socio-political and historical events of the times. This class calibrates a balance between forms formerly discussed as “low art” inside the “high/low” binary of the academy and the “dance canons,” acknowledging the equal value of the dancing texts of popular culture and examining them as rich and vital components worthy of serious study inside dance scholarship. It introduces methods of critical analysis that reveal the rich heritage hidden within and around the dances students commonly encounter at the club, on the street, on television, on the big screen, on the internet and elsewhere in everyday life. Through watching, reading, and discussion, students discover new meaning in their lived cultural experience.


By completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe representations of dance through an anthropological lens.
  • Explain the sociopolitical and sociocultural aspects surrounding the development of various dance styles.
  • Identify the value of dance in the culture of the United States
  • Define “low art” inside the “high/low” binary of the academy and the “dance canons.”
  • Discuss how dance fits into the technical and artistic history of television and cinema.
  • Explain how dance reflects the cultural values of the times, and how it evolves through appropriation and transmission.
  • Describe the ways gender and race are embodied in the dancing bodies found on the small and large screen.

Required Texts:

No required text.


  • 240 Points – Weekly Discussion Posts: 11 initial posts & 2 responses – lowest score will be dropped
  • 40 Points – Quizzes (4 total)
  • 5 Points – Midterm Check-in: Setting up Skype Date
  • 15 Points – Completing Skype conversation with Rachel
  • 50 Points – Experiential Assignment #1
  • 50 Points – Experiential Assignment #2
  • 150 Points – Movie Analysis Paper
  • 200 Points – Mid-Term Exam
  • 250 Points – Final Exam

1,000 Total Possible Points

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