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Dance 261: Orientation to Dance: Research Help

Introduction to dance as a discipline.

Primary Research

If you are interested in researching historical dances from primary sources, Professor Richard Powers of Stanford University offers helpful suggestions here.

Choosing a Topic

You may choose a topic with a specific style of dance in mind, such as ballet or ballroom; a specific technique, such as en pointe in ballet, or gancho in tango; a specific person, such as Christopher d'Amboise or Twyla Tharp; a specific place (city, state, country); or a specific time period. 

Combining techniques and styles with a particular place or period of time is an effective way to develop a more complex research question. (Example: What are some differences between the way the tango is danced in Argentina, where it developed, and here in the United States?)

You might also want to look at an aspect of health, culture or education and make connections to dance. (Example: How does motherhood impact the career of ballet dancers?)

Examples of styles and techniques: (See more extensive list here.)

  • aplomb (ballet)
  • enpointe (ballet)
  • bourree (ballet)
  • Guapacha timing (ballroom)
  • Promenade position (ballroom)
  • Headspin (hip-hop)
  • The worm (hip-hop)
  • jazz piroutte (turn)
  • grand jete (leap)

Examples of forms and genres: (See another list here.)

  • Jig
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Disco
  • Ballroom
  • Electonica
  • Hip-hop
  • Ballet
  • Tap
  • Modern

 Examples of periods and styles:

  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque
  • English Regency
  • Polka craze (mid 19th century)
  • Ragtime
  • Roaring twenties
  • Swing (30's and 40's)
  • Contemporary
  • Street

Doing Dance Research

1. Locate background information.

            - use encyclopedia articles to find keywords (terminology, words for narrowing topic, important scholars) and citations to other materials.

2. Develop and narrow your topic; form an issue or research question.

3. Find research materials you may use in your paper.

            - books, journal articles

4. Evaluate and select materials that you will use in your paper.

5. Write draft, cite sources, and write final paper.

            - use an approved citation format, and consult style manuals as needed.

            - begin writing early.

Evaluating Information Worksheet

When evaluating the quality of an information source, remember to examine:

Currency

Reliability

Authority

Purpose / Point of View

Here are some questions to ask yourself for each category:

Currency - How current is the information?  Is the age of the publication likely to affect the conclusions drawn by the author? 

Reliability - Does this work present you with high quality information?  Is your topic treated as the main subject, or is it peripheral?  Does the information support or disprove your thesis?  Is the resource useful to your research need?

Authority - Who is the author of the work, and what are his/her credentials?  Who published the work - a scholarly press, a commercial publisher, or is it self-published?  If it is an online resource, can you determine who the author is?

Purpose/Point of View - What is the purpose of the resource?  Is it to inform, entertain, etc?  Is the purpose clearly outlined in the foreword or introduction?  Is the work's audience an expert in the field or a layperson?