Introduction to Musical Theatre Dance - DR684

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 5 30 (15) DR F Vass checkmark-circle


Students will explore the historical and cultural contexts through which the genre of musical theatre dance developed. Learning will be organised around detailed examinations of particular periods of musical theatre dance including its interface with popular dance forms in the 1920s and the emergence of variety and Vaudeville theatre; the integration of Latin, Indian and African influences through the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s; the standardization of jazz in the 1970s; and the influences of ballet, cabaret, and burlesque theatre across the century's period styles. Weekly workshop sessions will include a comprehensive isolation-based musical theatre/jazz warm-up, followed by movement studies focused in specific periods and the learning of a section of musical theatre dance repertory. In addition, students will view filmed musicals and other performances from specific periods and present critical analyses of these in small groups during seminar classes. Attendance at three live musical performances will also be required. These tasks will lead towards a research essay focused on a period, artist, or musical of the students’ choice.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 48
Private study hours: 252
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Performance (40%)
Essay (3000 words) (40%)
Seminar & Workshop Preparation and Participation (20%).

Indicative reading

Loney, G. 1984. Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole. New York: Franklin Watts.
Malone, J. 1996. Steppin' on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance Urbana/Chicago: U Ilinois Press.
Stearns, J. and Stearns, M. 1994. Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance, 2 rev. ed. New York: Da Capo Press.
Taylor, M. and Symonds, D. 2014. Studying Musical Theatre: Theory & Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wasson, S. 2013. Fosse. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Wright, A. 2012. West End Broadway: The Golden Age of the American Musical in London. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the development of the genre of musical theatre dance over the 20th century, including key practitioners and cultural influences;
- demonstrate practical knowledge of musical theatre dance, demonstrated through an appropriate level of movement and vocal skills and stylistic presentation for the periods covered;
- demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the legacy of musical theatre dance for current popular dance forms;
- critically analyse musical theatre performance in terms of its representations of gendered, cultural, and historical identities.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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