In Step at Susquehanna

Anne Doctor demonstrates a movement during a modern dance class.

Dance. It’s an art form, a sport, an escape—and it’s growing at Susquehanna, both as an academic program and as an extracurricular activity. For the past few years, students have pursued dance as a minor in the theatre department.

The minor requires 16 semester hours of coursework, including Foundations of Dance, three levels of modern dance and electives chosen from courses such as Contemporary Ballroom Dance, taught by Joan Moyer Clark, founder of the Moyer Institute of Dancing in Sunbury, Pa. The class has been a favorite among students since its addition to the course catalog in 2007. In addition to taking classes in dance, students can also participate in the growing number of extracurricular dance opportunities on campus, including SU Dance Corps, SU Swings and SU Belly Dance Circle.

“I think the benefit of taking a dance class is that it can remove you from the everyday stress of life—both social and academic,” says Anne Doctor, who teaches Modern Dance I and Modern Dance II. “Dance offers a wonderful emotional release.”

Dance is distinct from most leisure activities, sports and programs of study in that it is physical, intellectual and emotional. “Dance also has the added benefit of being great exercise. Along with swimming, it is supposed to be one of the best forms of exercise because it uses all muscle groups in your body,” Doctor adds.

Clark, who boasts a decades-long career as both a dancer and an instructor, reminds her students about the mental benefits of dance. It takes an incredible amount of concentration to present correct form while also remembering all the choreography. Erica Weaver ’00 Stephenson, associate director of residence life and adviser for SU Dance Corps, notes the health advantages it promotes as well.

Another added benefit is the self-confidence dance can foster. Gabrielle Tompkins '12 and Collin Clark '11 have experienced this firsthand while participating in extracurricular dance groups. Tompkins, president of the SU Belly Dance Circle, says, “I think it really helped make all of us more confident in our dancing and our bodies.” Clark, former president of SU Swings, had a similar experience with swing dancing. “The biggest benefit is definitely the way it can help shape us. I was literally dragged to my first meeting a timid mess,” says Clark. “But as I kept dancing, I noticed myself becoming more confident all around. I’ve seen this happen to a lot of people, and I’m always glad when I recognize the impact swing dancing can have on someone.”

Dance classes, clubs and groups at SU are largely composed of non-minors and offer opportunities for exercise and personal growth to both beginners and experienced dancers who want to continue dancing in college. And for those who want to pursue dance in concentrated study, the dance minor is a rich addition to the academic programs offered at Susquehanna.


Contributing writers to The ‘Grove are Robert Edward Healy III, Victoria Kidd and Billie Tadros ’10.

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