Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Descriptions

GLS 562: Our Cultural Heritage through Dance

Instructor: John P. Bennett

dancing ladies

Our Cultural Heritage Through Dance is designed to give you an opportunity to experience and examine a variety of cultures and dance forms from around the world. The idea is to provide you with both the focus and impetus to make personal connections, strengthen connections to the global studies curriculum, and give you further opportunities for independent study on both dance and cultural issues.

In addition, there will be a special emphasis on the United Nations position regarding "safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage" taken at an international convention that was held by the United Nations in Paris, France in October 2003.

While this class will take a cursory look at folk dance around the world, our primary emphasis will be on ethnically derived movements that have migrated to other dance forms. Each student will examine his/her own ethnicity, research it as necessary, and produce a dance-related project derived from that ethnicity. (**Note: Since almost all of us are multi-ethnic, we will concentrate on ONE ethnic element. In past classes, students have researched and found that they are the product of ancestors from many cultures---Germany, France, England, Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Japan, China, Africa--so we will concentrate on one of them, or how they've blended together.

Text: (Suggested as a valuable reference tool, but not required for this class)

Bennett, J.P. and Reimer, P.C. 1995. Rythmic Activities and Dance. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.


Upon successful completion of this course the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate numerous dance forms from around the world;
  • Demonstrate an expanded cultural awareness through dance forms from around the world;
  • Compare and contrast lifestyles through culture and dance forms in other countries to those in the U.S.A.;
  • Pursue independent studies of dance and culture in an area of personal interest.

Course Outline (suggested, but not limited to):

  • International and American Folk Dance
  • American/International Social and Ballroom Dance
  • Native American Dance
  • Aftrican American Dance


A. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will have completed satisfactorily:
  1. Demonstrated proficiency in numerous dance areas such as: International and American Folk Dance, American/International Social and Ballroom Dance, Native American Dance, and/or African American Dance.
  2. Daily skills and participation evaluation
  3. Website and research analysis (3)
  4. Research project and presentation
B. Grading Scale

A = Excellent participation, evaluation, and presentation

B = Acceptable participation, evaluation, and presentation

C = Marginal participation, evaluation, and presentation

C. Grade Distribution
  1. Daily skills and participation evaluation 40%
  2. Website and research analysis 20%
  3. Research project 40%

Total 100%

D. Class Polices and Information

Attendance and participation

a. All students are expected to attend, participate, and dress appropriately for this class. (That is, something in which you can move comfortably. You needn't wear dancewear. No sandals or flip-flops, no bare feet. Females who want to wear high heels. . .fine, but you're going to have to dance in them.)
b. Two late arrivals or early departures will count as one absence
c. For each absence, 1/8th will be deducted from your "daily skills and participation" portion of your final grade in this area. You may do a multi-referenced paper on the topic of the day that was missed. (Note: this can only be done twice and then you automatically receive a grade of "F" in the course.)


a. All papers, projects, and other assignments are to be typed and are due on their due date. No credit will be provided for materials that are turned in late.
b. Three cultural dance websites or readily-available books/publications will be analyzed for the class in a written format. Two page minimum, one for analyis and one for a summary.
c. A dance research project based on your personal heritage will be presented orally. A written summary of the project should be submitted at the time of presentation. If the presentation is multi-media, a DVD, videotape, or CD containing PowerPoint presentations will be accepted in lieu of a written paper.

All written work must be documented. Students are free to use MLA, APA, Turabian, or U.S. Government Printing Office standards.

The instructor reserves the right to modify or change assignments during the semester

"Photo by Bruce Davis and courtesy of TWU Dance."

Last Update: February 6, 2017