Intro to Global Dance: ‘Cloud-breaking’ course takes dance online, into GCP

| February 20, 2015

How do you have a dance class online? Webster University students from across the globe are actively addressing that question in the Department of Dance’s flagship online course: Introduction to Global Dance.

Adjunct faculty member Betsy Brandt, an interdisciplinary scholar and dancer, choreographer, teacher, dramaturge, and writer, created the eight-week course as the first online and Global Citizenship Program course available from the Department of Dance in Webster’s Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.

“Betsy Brandt’s tremendous work on this course has been an exciting addition to the Department of Dance course offerings,” said James Robey, Department of Dance chair. “Not only does this ‘cloud-breaking’ course introduce dance to the online Webster community, but it also enables connections to be made around the world between students at each of Webster’s international campuses.”

Neither Traditional Technique nor Dance History, but What and Why

Neither a traditional dance technique class nor dance history class, this innovative course asks the questions, “What is dance and why do we it?” It introduces students to the diverse roles that dance plays in cultures across the globe – is a particular dance performed for political gain, nationalistic tradition, self-expression, or religious worship?

Students from across the world come together to share their personal experiences and learn together through a variety of assignments. These include including curating a virtual dance concert from a student-generated video library, choreographing their own dances that explore how dance can be a personal expression of self, and interacting in guided group discussions on topics ranging from cultural appropriation to krumping!

“One of my favorite things about this course is the unique opportunity to discuss global dance forms in a truly global way, Brandt said. “Students are all different ages, live all over the world, and have vastly different experience with dance. Students are aware, from the first week, that they will be learning from each other as well from me. This course truly allows students to broaden their definitions of what dance is and what it can do more than any on-the-ground course I have taught.”

Students who have taken the class agreed.

“This course changed my perspective about dance … offering completely new perspectives about dance and importance of the dance discipline in both present and previous times of human societies and cultures,” one student said.

Department of Dance

The next offering of Introduction to Global Dance is open for registration for Spring II, 2015 under the course number DANC 1600 W1 Introduction to Global Dance. For more information on this course or Webster Dance, call 314-246-7747, email or visit the department website at

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