Salsa Meets Jazz

Which came first, salsa or jazz?

Students in this course will explore the beginnings of Afro-Cuban music and American jazz music and the transformation of these two into salsa. The students will also learn to understand dance as a cultural practice that reflects and impacts local communities and global cultures. They will experience music and dance directly by attending performances at the Modlin Center for the Arts, taking a community trip to Havana, Cuba, learning movements from a diverse set of dance forms and creating their own video vignettes with footage from Cuba.

Inside the Classroom

Students will explore the genealogy of shared rhythms between Cuba and the U.S. and its relation to Afro-Cuban dance. This class will help students develop an awareness and appreciation of salsa and dance in its artistic, social and cultural contexts through an understanding of the aesthetic and critical dimensions of viewing these art forms as a source of expression and entertainment.

No musical or dance backgrounds are necessary for students taking this class.

Outside the Classroom

Students will connect what they learn in class through various experiential learning praxis-driven opportunities outside the classroom. Students will become literate, sensitive, and enthusiastic audience members by attending performances at the Modlin Center and traveling as a community to Havana, Cuba over winter break to be exposed to a diverse array of Cuban music and dance forms. Since Cuba has one of the leading ballet companies in the world, while in Havana, the class will attend a classical ballet. Students will also witness a master class of the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. Upon returning from Cuba, students will produce video vignettes characterizing the different genres of Cuban music and the related dance styles.

Research and Capstone Project

Through research, group projects, critical analysis and direct participation in the creative process students will explore how dance and music have been central to communication, expression of emotion, and the development of community since the beginning of mankind. Over the course of the fall semester students will study the relationship between music and dance in Cuba. During the spring semester, students will work in groups with their classmates to create a capstone project and subsequent presentation to the University of oral histories and performances that they recorded while in Cuba.