Writing in Performing Arts

In the Performing Arts Program at CI, writing is a vital element of all the emphases (Dance, Music, and Theatre). Writing provides an opportunity for PA students to communicate their ideas in a variety of ways that are both creative and analytical. Whether commenting on existing performances (choreographies, compositions, plays, etc.), or devising original pieces, it is necessary for PA students to master writing skills, so they may convey their thoughts and express themselves to their full potential.

In creating works for performance, writing can be integral to the process (lyrics, dialogue, stage directions, etc.). Other times writing serves to introduce or explain a work (promotional materials, program notes, etc.), or to write reviews (concert, theater, CD, dance reviews, etc.), or to write adaptations or translations of existing texts. Examining or researching the works of others, and creating one’s own written work are skills that can be learned. These writing skills will serve PA students academically, professionally, and personally.

Types of Writing in The Performing Arts

Writing in the Performing Arts includes a great variety of assignments/tasks that fall into two main categories, analytical and creative writing, which may overlap in some cases.

Analytical writing: Task/assignment names may vary depending on the nature of the course and background of instructor

  • Research papers
  • Critical responses
  • Reports
  • Presentations
  • Articles
  • Essays
  • Concert reports
  • Music journalist assignments
  • Journal entries
  • Peer reviews
  • Personal reflection papers
Creative writing:
  • Scripts (original and adaptations of literature and narratives)
  • Stage plays
  • Song lyrics
  • Dialogue
  • Stage directions
  • Scenarii

Writing Outcomes in the Performing Arts

When completing writing tasks in the Performing Arts Program, students are expected to do the following:

  • Practice critical thinking when they
    • Analyze and interpret primary sources (performance texts in a variety of forms—script, notation, live performance, recorded performance— whether dance, music, and / r theatre)
    • Articulate, through a recursive process of drafting and revision, a critical research question or problem in clear prose
    • Utilize the resources of the CI library and the Internet to locate sources (primary and secondary) to answer that question or solve that problem
    • Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate sources (primary, secondary, or tertiary)
    • Distinguish their thoughts and ideas from those of secondary sources by citing others’ work appropriately and articulating a thesis, i.e., the answer(s) to a question or solution(s) a problem
    • Construct, through a recursive process of drafting and revision, a sound, logically supported, and persuasive argument in clear prose
  • Practice creative thinking when they
    • Utilize the resources of the CI library and the Internet to locate sources (primary and secondary) that serve as inspiration for original creative works of performance
    • Analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and appropriately cite sources (primary, secondary, or tertiary) as context, inspiration, or adaptation material for composing or adapting a creative performance work
    • Experiment freely with different choices in order to compose, through a recursive process of rehearsal and revision, an original performance work
    • Articulate the significance, theme, and purpose of their work
  • Practice process-based thinking when they
    • Write a plan for completion of a research or creative project
    • Reflect on stages of an on-going or recently completed project in formal or informal writing
    • Analyze and evaluate their creative or research project in an early phase in order to make revisions
    • Analyze and evaluate other students’ creative or research projects in an early phase in order to provide constructive feedback

Assessment Rubrics

Example 1

Research Paper CHECKLIST:

  1. The development of ideas/issues
    • Was the thesis/main idea clearly expressed?
    • Was there a clear development/flow of ideas?
    • Was each idea completed?
    • Were there quotations from the primary source/text?
    • How effective were they?
    • Were there citations from secondary sources?
    • Were they used effectively?
  2. Writing style and clarity
    • Did you understand each sentence?
    • Did spelling, grammar, and punctuation need revision?
    • Were there any slang/colloquial expressions or jargon? Were they necessary?
    • How successful was the conclusion?
    • Was the Works Cited page formatted appropriately?

Example 2

Journal Writing RUBRIC:

DimensionsExcellentSatisfactoryNeeds work
Quality of EngagementUsually successful in using free-writing to explore and reflect on questions, problems, and possibilities in the creative and critical processes and how they overlap. Frequently raises questions, and wrestles with how to answer them. Explores the implications of any ideas or insights after stating or describing them.Often successful in using free-writing to explore and reflect on questions, problems, and possibilities in both the creative and critical processes, although may focus more on one process over the other. May occasionally ask questions without attempting to answer them, or state an idea or insight without exploring it furtherFocused primarily on polished prose, spelling, word choice, etc., rather than free-writing. Usually summarizes, describes, or makes statements without exploring or reflecting. Rarely raises a question and tries to answer it. Refuses to engage personally with creative or critical processes.
Quantity of EngagementAverages more than two separate entries, or more than four pages of freewriting, every week. May demonstrate a denser concentration of entries in one period and fewer entries in another period, but demonstrates continuing sincere, personal reflection overall.Averages one to two entries, or two pages of free-writing, every other week. May demonstrate a denser concentration of entries in one period and fewer entries in another period, but demonstrates continuing sincere, personal reflection overall.Averages less than two separate entries, or four pages of free-writing, per month. Demonstrates sporadic or insincere reflection.