When she came to the College, Carly Harward wanted to study theatre and communication. She thought she had given up dance. Still, she took a dance class just to maintain her activity level. Through the support of her professor, she rediscovered why she’s so passionate about dance. It all just rolled forward from there.
“I was so nervous coming in as a freshman,” says Carly. “My first dance professor had us write papers assessing our performances (which we viewed on video). She easily sensed my discomfort. But, she gave me positive feedback and she really stuck with me through that year, challenging me to further my studies.”
That support, says Carly, gave her the confidence to take more dance classes. By her sophomore year, she was hooked. “I love dance, and this is a very close-knit department, so it’s welcoming. All of the other dance majors are close friends of mine, and I know the faculty members pretty well, too.”
For a course in dance history, Carly focused her research on Martha Graham and her use of Greek mythology in choreography. “It was really interesting to see what everyone in the class chose to research. One friend – a theatre and dance double major – wrote about how costumes and lighting effects in dance have changed over the years. It’s great that we were given the freedom to come up with our own focus because dance is such a broad topic. You can study so many different facets of it.”
Carly applied for and received research funding from the College to study the creative expression of mental illness, specifically that of famed dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who suffered from schizophrenia. “I’m focusing on how mental illness affects creativity and non-verbal communication. Nijinsky kept journals and Mikhail Baryshnikov has turned them into a dance performance, which I’ll see in Spoleto, Italy, as part of my research.” Dance. It’s much more than you might imagine.
This major combines the study of technique in ballet, modern and jazz with a strong theoretical grounding in the breadth of dance as a field. Courses in the major include choreography, a career seminar, body conditioning and dance history. Independent studies and internships are encouraged.
Dance majors choreograph and perform in two annual dance concerts as well as other departmental productions and external events. Students also attend and present their work at conferences such as the american college dance association and the national dance education association. Dance majors earn a bachelor of arts in dance with an emphasis in either general dance studies or performance.