University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Dance Minor in Somatics

The Minor in Somatics prepares students to undertake further study in an array of artistic, teaching/learning, and health/wellness disciplines. Students will study a wide range of somatic practices, including Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Alexander Technique, Pilates Method, Ideokinesis, Body-Mind Centering, Authentic Movement, Iyengar Yoga, and Martial Arts. 

Thomas Hanna first used the term 'somatics' in the 1970's in the first issue of the journal Somatics. He used "soma" to refer to the wide range of body awareness and mind-body practices which had emerged in many cultures throughout the twentieth century. The focus of somatics is on bodily experience, and on how our soma interacts with the world.

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Dance Undergraduate Student Handbook

Somatics Admission

Students must meet general university admission requirements to be admitted to any of the undergraduate curricula as a freshman or transfer student. Prior to completing 6 credits of the Somatics Minor coursework, students must apply for and be accepted into the minor. No more than 6 credits will be applied toward the minor until after a student has been admitted and a Dance Faculty Advisor has been assigned. Students must maintain a 2.75 GPA overall to remain in the Somatics Minor. Download application.

All students are expected to demonstrate a strong commitment to their health and overall conditioning in order to fulfill the department's academic requirements. Each student's ability to withstand the demands of the dance program, including his/her overall physical ability to perform in classes, auditions, rehearsals, and/or performances will be a factor in the following: grading at the end of each semester; the audition/rehearsal/performance process for departmental productions and outreach events; the Mid-Program Portfolio Review assessment; determining 'probation' status; and potentially removing a student from the program.

Somatics Requirements

Students must complete 28 Dance credits, with a grade point average of at least 2.75 to remain in the Somatics Minor. 

Requirements Credits
Required Dance Courses
Elective Dance Courses
  28cr. Total

Somatics Curriculum

Required Courses in Dance   13 Credits
103  Introduction to Iyengar Yoga 2 cr.
122  African Dance and Diaspora Technique I  
  OR 2 cr.
370  World Movement Traditions or dance equivalent  
133  Creative Movement  
   OR 3 cr.
135  Introduction to Dancemaking Skills  
220  Body Sense 3 cr.
371  Applied Anatomy 3 cr.
Electives in Dance   15 Credits
(choose from any of the following)    
211  Body Sense II 2 cr.
233  Improvisation 3 cr.
321  Alexander Technique for the Performer 2 cr.
251  Laban Movement Analysis 3 cr.
323  Body Conditioning: Pilates Method 2 cr.
360  Movement and Learning 3 cr.
370  World Movement Traditions or dance equivalent 2 cr.
   (retakeable to 6 cr.)  
421  Alexander Technique Practicum 2 cr.
    Total: 28 credits

 Course Descriptions

Somatics Opportunities

Awareness of somatic processes is essential in order for the Dance Major to acquire self-monitoring of physical performing skills, to access the movement imagination, to move expressively, and to connect meaningfully with an audience. Greater awareness of one's subjective experience is an important dimension informing one's learning and works in a broad range of other disciplines as well. The Department's mission in creating this minor is twofold: to guide those undertaking the minor to a level of attention to subjective experience that supports the unfolding personal voice (as is the case in training movement artists), and to provide the foundation of awareness of personal experience necessary to enable personal change. This latter outcome is essential for those who would aspire to facilitate the efforts of others to change — movement artists, teachers, counselors, therapists whose work may center in the helping professions. 

While this minor is a logical programmatic addition for Dance Majors, it will also provide a block of coursework of special interest to majors in other schools and disciplines, such as Health Sciences, Nursing, or Education. Music and Acting performance students in the Peck School of the Arts could benefit from the topics included in the Somatics Minor. 

In conclusion, while providing a strong interdisciplinary link at the undergraduate level, completion of the Somatics Minor will broaden and deepen the preparation to undertake graduate work in an array of artistic, teaching/learning, and health/wellness disciplines.