As daunting as this experience might be for some students in Professor Dávila’s First-Year Seminar, FYSEM-UA: 695 Gestures, Movement and Literature, the conversation that follows lays the foundation for the discussions students will have over the course of the semester. Using literature as its base, this course examines the history of dance and movement in Latin America, as well as the role of dance and movement in contemporary politics. Beyond interpreting dance in literature, students will learn how to decipher the choreography of live performances, analyze scenes in movies that use movement to convey important shifts in the plot, and reflect on basic movements of everyday life. Students will also think about the ways in which dance can be used as visible or concealed means of resistance, or how dance can be used to describe identities.
Professor Dávila has danced professionally, from classical to post-modern dance, for over thirty years. She holds a PhD in Literature, and is the founder and managing editor of Esferas, a multidisciplinary journal housed in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU.
This course is open to all incoming freshmen, and Professor Dávila is particularly excited about, and often surprised by, the way students without a background in dance relate to the material of the course. Students are encouraged to engage with dance and movement in a way that feels authentic to their studies, interests and identities. To Professor Dávila, this course is ultimately about more than dance, movement and the history of Latin America. It is also about learning how to be comfortable in our own bodies, and she is hopeful her students will end the semester just a little more comfortable in their bodies than they were at the start.