Introduction to Musical Theatre Dance - DRAM6840

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Freya 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 performance. In addition, students will view and analyze filmed musical dance numbers and other performances from specific periods. Attendance at one full-length live or filmed-as-live musical performance will also be required. These tasks will lead towards a critically informed research essay focused on a period, artist, or musical of the students’ choice.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 58
Private study hours: 242
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Performance components (40%)
Essay (3000 words) (40%)
Lecture & Workshop Preparation and Participation (20%)

Reassessment methods:
Like for Like

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

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.
Symonds, D. and Taylor, M. eds., 2014. Gestures of Music Theater: The Performativity of Song and Dance. Oxford University Press.
Taylor, M. and Symonds, D. 2014. Studying Musical Theatre: Theory & Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wollman, E.L., 2017. A Critical Companion to the American Stage Musical. Bloomsbury Publishing..
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

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

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

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 critically evaluate a variety of textual, audio-visual, and movement materials;
2 demonstrate qualities and transferable skills for independent working: time management, problem-solving, meeting objectives and criteria, analysing and improving own performance using feedback offered;
3 demonstrate effective communication skills - communicating effectively with others in group work, writing in a range of modes for different audiences and in performance work;
4 demonstrate skills in team working and project management through work on group presentation/practical demonstration;
5 demonstrate research skills using a variety of sources including books, academic journals, and web.


  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.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.