27136 - History of Dance and Movement Arts

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Elena Cervellati

  • Credits 12

  • SSD L-ART/05

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 0956)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will:

– acquire a basic knowledge of the history of the dance and the arts of the movement in the western theatrical culture, with special reference to the contemporary times and the European and Italian context;

– learn and be able to use some analysis methodologies of the dance performance;

– be able to apply the competences and tools acquired during the course to the cultural diffusion

Course contents

The course intends to offer a panorama of the history of theatrical dance that took shape between Europe and the United States starting from the Renaissance, focusing in particular on the spectacular practices that emerged during the nineteenth century, through the revolutions implemented at the beginning of the twentieth century and the expansion of experiences in the second half of that century, up to the variegated multiplicity that characterizes the times in which we live.

In particular, the second part of the course will focus on contemporaneity, through the vision, analysis and commentary on recent philological reconstructions, contaminated reinterpretations or radical reinventions made starting from well-known titles of a more or less distant past, such as, for example, Giselle (1841), by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot; Swan Lake (1895), by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov; Le sacre du printemps (1913), by Vaclav Nizinskij; Kontakthof (1978), by Pina Bausch. The interest in the remaking of existing creations in fact clearly invests today not only the classical-academic repertoire, but also that of modern dance, contemporary dance, theater-dance or post-modern dance, putting in place strong themes, such as identity, originality and reproducibility of the work, authorship and intellectual property, viewers' gaze and visions, relationship between past and present, nostalgia, memory, time.

The lessons will be organized around the vision of iconographic and video materials, analyzed and commented in the classroom, and will be enriched by meetings with artists and scholars.

They will start on Monday 31 January 2022 and will take place according to the following schedule:

Monday, 9.00-11.00

Tuesday, 9.00-11.00

Wednesday, 9.00-11.00


The exam program consists of four readings:

a) one book that traces a synthetic overview of the history of theatrical dance from the Renaissance to today:

  • Elena Cervellati, Storia della danza, Pearson, Torino 2020

b) two books to be chosen from those listed below, each of which explores figures or artistic experiences active between the nineteenth century and today:

  • Eugenia Casini Ropa, La danza e l'agit-prop. I teatri non-teatrali nella cultura teatrale del primo Novecento, Cue press, Imola 2016 (I ed. Il Mulino, Bologna 1988)
  • Elena Cervellati, Théophile Gautier e la danza. La rivelazione del corpo nel balletto del XIX secolo, CLUEB, Bologna 2007
  • Vito Di Bernardi (ed.), L'opera coreografica e i suoi processi creativi, numero monografico di "Biblioteca Teatrale", n. 134, luglio-dicembre 2020 (pp. 25-181 only)
  • Silvia Garzarella, Valeria Magli o la poesia ballerina, Mimesis, Milano 2021
  • Alessandro Pontremoli, L'arte del ballare. Danza, cultura e società a corte fra XV e XVII secolo, Edizioni di Pagina, Bari 2021
  • Elena Randi, La modern dance. Teorie e protagonisti, Carocci editore, Roma 2018
  • Elena Randi, Protagonisti della danza del XX secolo. Poetiche ed eventi scenici, Carocci editore, Roma 2014
  • Ted Shawn, Ogni più piccolo movimento. François Delsarte e la danza, a cura di Elena Randi, Dino Audino, Roma 2018

c) one reader which collects writings by different authors, focused on the theme of "remaking the dance", Rifare la danza. Metodologie ed esempi:

  • 01_Emanuele Giannasca, La danza nella prospettiva ontologica di una teoria documentale dell’arte, in «Danza e ricerca. Laboratorio di studi, scritture, visioni», n. 10, 2018, pp. 325–346, online: https://danzaericerca.unibo.it/article/view/8710
  • 02_Concetta Lo Iacono, La bambola di Cagliostro. Una storia per immagini di Coppélia ou La Fille aux yeux d'émail, in «Danza e ricerca. Laboratorio di studi, scritture, visioni», n. 3, 2012, pp. 35-60, online: https://danzaericerca.unibo.it/article/view/3343/2718
  • 03_Rita Maria Fabris, Femminile/Maschile nel corpo danzante: Il lago dei cigni, in «Danza e ricerca. Laboratorio di studi, scritture, visioni», n. 4, 2013, pp. 31-56, online: http://danzaericerca.unibo.it/article/view/4207/3659
  • 04_Stephanie Jordan, The Rite of Spring as a Dance: Recent Re-visions, in Neff, Severine - Carr, Maureen - Horlacher, Gretchen (a cura di), The Rite of Spring at 100, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2017, pp. 29-38, online: https://almastart.unibo.it
  • 05_Annamaria Corea, Romeo e Giulietta. Un perfetto case-study per il balletto narrativo del Novecento, in «Danza e ricerca. Laboratorio di studi, scritture, visioni», n. 6, 2015, pp. 19-29, online: https://danzaericerca.unibo.it/article/view/4969
  • 06_Elena Randi, Il Tanztheater di Pina Bausch, in «Mimesis Journal», n. 2, 2013, pp. 78-104, online: http://journals.openedition.org/mimesis/369
  • 07_Elena Cervellati, Tra canone e archivio vivente: rifare la “nuova danza italiana”, in Guccini, Gerardo (a cura di), Thinking the Theatre. New Theatrology and Performance Studies. Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Torino, 29-30 maggio 2015, ALMADL University of Bologna Digital Library, Bologna 2018, pp. 360-373, online: http://amsacta.unibo.it/5781/
  • 08_Alessandra Sini, Il lavoro di Michele Di Stefano per la ripresa coreografica di e-ink fra note autografe e pratiche incorporate, in «Ricerche di s/confine», n. 152, 2018, pp. 111-127, online: https://www.ricerchedisconfine.info/dossier-5/index.htm


For an adequate preparation of the exam, it is also considered fundamental to view, in full or in significant extracts, some of the main shows covered in the same texts, with the aid of video recordings on DVD or online support (youtube, vimeo, numéridanse and similar). It is therefore necessary to present yourself for the exam after having viewed at least the following shows:

for point a), La fille mal gardée (1789), di Jean Dauberval; Giselle (1841), di Jean Coralli e Jules Perrot; Lo Schiaccianoci (1892), di Marius Petipa e Lev Ivanov; Apollon musagète (1928), di George Balanchine; Lamentation (1930), di Martha Graham; Event (1964), di Merce Cunningham; Blaubart (1977), di Pina Bausch; Blue Lady (1983), di Carolyn Carlson;

for point b), two titles among those cited in each of the selected volumes;

for point c), a title for each essay included in the volume.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be supported by commenting videos and pictures, as well as by meeting artists and scholars.

Assessment methods

The students’ learning outcomes on the history of the dance and the arts of the movement will be verified through an interview concerning the recommended bibliography to verify their ability 1) to move within the key phases of the history of the theatrical dance beginning from the Renaissance and to make specific reference to specific artistic experiences.

It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, the originality of the reflection as well as the familiarity with the tolls for analysing the History of The Dance and The Arts of The Movement.

It will be assessed as discrete the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, not articulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of the History of The Dance and The Arts of The Movement. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the discipline. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyse the History of The Dance and The Arts of The Movement.

Teaching tools

Visual documentation through projections of fixed and moving images.

Office hours

See the website of Elena Cervellati