SPARKED: Doug Elkins, Professor of Dance

Mason Gross School artists discuss the elements that fuel their work

Social Dances
B-Boying is a style of street dance that originated primarily among African-American but also Puerto Rican youth in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. It is still evolving and is global in its reach. It is the first dance form I studied, played, and danced, in gymnasiums, community centers, and the New York club scene.


This Brazilian martial art combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It was developed in Brazil mainly by West African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably in the beginning of the 16th century. It is known for quick and complex moves and highly mobile techniques.

Paul Taylor’s Esplanade

Taylor is one of the last living members of the second generation of America's modern dance artist. He is a brilliant trickster and iconoclast!  The first contemporary dance I ever saw was his, Esplanade, a dance made up of highly stylized “pedestrian movement”--walking, running, falling, and sliding to Bach. It’s paradoxically simple and complex at the same time.

Trisha Brown

Brown is a postmodernist American choreographer and dancer. Brilliant choreographer! She has described herself as “a bricklayer with a sense of humor.”

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud

This nonfiction book explores the formal aspects of comics, its fundamental vocabulary, and various ways it has been used. Brilliant book expounding on theoretical ideas about comics as an art form and medium of communication.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino

A wonderful series of lectures by author Italo Calvino regarding the values of literature that he felt were important for the coming millennium.

Wuxia/Kung Fu Films 

I have been deeply influenced by Kung Fu fight choreography; it’s absolutely brilliant and beautiful. Here is a short list of my favorite Wuxia choreographers/directors: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Donnie Ye, and the amazing Yuen Woo-ping! 

Japanese Anime

I love the colorful, highly stylized graphics, vibrant characters, brilliant compositions, and amazing worlds created. In particular, I love the films of Satoshi Kon, Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Hosoda, and Makoto Shinkai.

Posted September 2015