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Dance

Department Overview

Swarthmore’s Dance program brings together a talented group of students to perform a global repertoire of dance styles and simultaneously engage in critical thinking and writing. Our students are often double majors or special majors in fields such as Anthropology, Classics, Art History, English, Education, as well as Biology, Psychology, Math, and Computer Science. We welcome all students to join our dance community regardless of whether they are majors or minors in the program or have prior formal training in dance. We also offer special scholarships for our majors and minors to study specific styles with some of the finest master teachers and choreographers in Philadelphia or develop as art activists through immersion in an international or local community.

The state of the art Lang Performing Arts Center and our spacious dance studios are always buzzing with rehearsals and performances. The intimate Underhill library, dedicated to Dance and Music, offers the ideal nook to rest dancing feet and discover the world of dance scholarship through books, articles, and digital resources. Come and experience our vibrant and diverse community of artists and scholars as we pursue dance as a field of academic inquiry, artistic creation, and civic engagement.

Join us on the journey!

About the Dance Program

Two people editing a dance video.

Dance lab student Megan Patton '20 meeting with Kim Arrow in the Media Center to edit footage for a Dance Lab project.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Students rehearsing GISELLE for performance.

For this historically inspired version of GISELLE, students learned the pantomime choreography and used focused research for later writings about pantomime and music from many different lenses.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Students practicing African dance.

African dance students practice their technique with professor Saleana Pettaway in the Troy dance studio.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Dance academic class in front of a large window.

Pallabi Chakravorty pauses to listen to the "Dance in Diaspora" class in discussion.

Photo by by Lawrence Kesterson
Kathak dancers with projected video, blue costumes.

Professional Kathak dancers rehearse for performance on the LPAC mainstage with a digital backdrop.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Dancers in rehearsal doing a pose.

Contemporary ballet students Lia D'Alessandro '21, Zach Weiss '20, Katie Knox '22 and others practice their form in the Boyer dance studio.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
A tapper spins in a blue dress, blurry

Molly Murphy '18 spins in her tap shoes during a dress rehearsal.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
A dancer with arms upraised teaching other dancers

Doug Varone dance company teaches choreography to Zach Weiss '20 and others in a master class sponsored by the Cooper series program.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Taiko dancers with their drums

Zhijia Shirley Liu '22, Kira Emmons '20, and Jinwook Daisy Lee '22 at East Coast Taiko Conference 2020, University of Connecticut.

Photo by by Albert Huang, UConn Kodama Taiko.
A yoga class practices in the Troy Dance Studio.

Kim Arrow teaches a yoga class practice in the LPAC Troy Dance Studio for dance majors and non-majors.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari
Tap dancers in Star Wars costumes with a digital background

Dance repertory classes, such as tap shown here, rehearse and perform in a final concert each semester that highlights the many facets of our diverse program.

Photo by by Steve Weinik

Dance lab student Megan Patton '20 meeting with Kim Arrow in the Media Center to edit footage for a Dance Lab project.

Photo / by Sasha Fornari
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Spring 2020: Dancing during a pandemic

With the support of the college and the hard work of our faculty and students, the Dance program quickly pivoted into online learning formats to teach our embodied techniques via Zoom, Facebook, and other digital sharing sites. We have also continued to instruct our academic classes and support the research of our faculty and students with Moodle and Zoom. In addition, we found ways to support our community by making links to other online dance opportunities available on social media and by hosting through online meetings and classes such as yoga, barre and Pilates.

We look forward to seeing all of you in the Fall either virtually or in person when we return to our studios and classrooms.

Dance Seniors

Dearest majors and minors of the Dance Program,

Warmest congratulations on your graduation!  You choreographed innovative dance works and wrote thought-provoking papers, and remained engaged and committed even during these extraordinary times.  Your resilience, hard work, and perseverance are inspiring.  We are all cheering for your achievements from far, but hold the memories close to our hearts. You are heading into an unknown world, but we are certain you will be able to navigate the difficulties with care, diligence, and outstanding leadership.   

Pallabi Chakravorty
Professor and Chair of Dance
Swarthmore College

Highlights from Spring 2020: Before Coronavirus

Bollywood class in session with professor.

Professor Moinak Biswas, a film studies expert from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, visiting "Dancing Desire in Bollywood Films".

Kathak class practices rhythms for the Spring dance concert showing.

A group of dancers with arms raised rehearsal

From the Boyer dance studio, Chandra Moss-Thorne's class synchronizes their choreography.

Photo by by Sasha Fornari

Students rehearse tabla in the Troy dance studio.

The hip-hop class finds some joy in the LPAC Troy Dance Studio.

The Taiko ensemble attended a conference at the University of Connecticut over Spring Break.

Rehearsal compilation for a final dance project by Sophie Gray-Gaillard '20.

Professor Moinak Biswas, a film studies expert from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, visiting "Dancing Desire in Bollywood Films".

Photo /
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