DANCE 302S: Writing About Performance


Reader requirements: Ideally, readers would be people who write or edit performance reviews, or are otherwise familiar with the genre. 


  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Marcia Rego

Inquiry into the concept of “performance” broadly construed–not only as it refers to “staged” concerts or plays, but also as social ritual and as self-presentation, appropriately situated in cultural context. Writing experiments aimed at capturing the ephemeral nature of live performance, with attention to how meaning is enacted through movement, sound, lighting, rhythm, voice, emotion, and audience interaction. Regular writer’s workshops and field trips to theater, dance, and musical performances. Students compose critical reviews and a research project on a performance genre, an artist’s approach, or other related topic of their choosing. Prerequisite: Writing 101.

Student Writing:

What are students writing? Performance reviews. Students will be writing 1 review for the general public (New Yorker-style) and another more academic review.  Readers will give feedback on the first review, and depending on the relationship they develop with student, they may agree to read the second review as well.

For whom? The imagined audience is the general public for the first review (in the style of The New Yorker), and a more academic audience for the second. In practice, student’s audience will be their instructor, classmates, and the readers from the Reader Project.

Where would such writing typically be found? Magazines like The New Yorker, local papers like The Independent, and specialized blogs (for the first review) and academic journals on dance, music and theater (for the second review).

Why would someone usually read it? To learn about a performance they did not have a chance to attend, or maybe to decide whether or not they should attend it, or just to learn how someone else experienced a performance they attended.


Schedule (Student – Reader Interactions):

Here are the deadlines for this course as they pertain to the Duke Reader Project:

Sept 25: Student should schedule an introductory meeting with their reader. This can be a brief get-to-know-you discussion.

Oct. 23: Student will submit the 2nd draft of their 1st review to their reader by this date.

Oct. 30: Reader returns feedback on 2nd draft of 1st review to student.

**Nov.6: If student would like their reader to read their 2nd review, they will let their reader know by this date.

**Nov 14: If reader has agreed to read the student’s 2nd review, that 2nd review will be due to reader on this date.

**Nov 21: If reader has agreed to read the student’s 2nd review, that feedback on 2nd review will be due to student on this date.

Link to full Syllabus:

Syllabus_Dance302S_Writing about Performance


Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More