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Dance Program

Taiko Drumming Dance Performance

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 vibrant and diverse community of artists and scholars pursue dance as a field of academic inquiry, artistic creation, and civic engagement.  We 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.  Our students are often double majors or special majors in fields such as Anthropology, Classics, Art History, English, Education, as well as Biology and Psychology.  

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.  The state of the art Lang Performing Arts Center and our spacious dance studios are always buzzing with concerts and rehearsals.  The intimate Underhill library, dedicated only to the Department of Music and Dance, filled with books, articles, and DVDs, is the ideal nook to rest the dancing feet and discover the world of dance scholarship.  Come join the journey!   

Professor Pallabi Chakravorty to Lecture at UCLA Arts

Pallabi Chakravorty is a leading scholar of South Asian performance and has recently published her second monograph, This Is How We Dance Now, an ethnography about the media industry, competition shows, and reality TV dance in India. It’s the first contemporary ethnography of screendance in India and an important contribution to the fields of visual and performance studies. She will present a lecture related to this book and her ongoing research in the area, which includes addressing gender and class representations and stratifications.

What can the embodied aesthetics of dance performance tell us about the contemporary cultures we inhabit? Drawing on ethnographic research among Reality Show dancers and Bollywood back-up dancers in India, I show how a new generation of dancers and choreographers are performing the spectacle of consumerist modernity in India. While the nationalist project of dance pedagogy instituted through the system of “guru shisya parampara” is being broken down by the growth of media, migration, and participatory democracy, new identities of femininity and masculinity are being forged through song and dances called “item numbers”. “Remix” signifies the new practice of transmission of bodily knowledge through dance that includes the aspirational emotions associated with celebrity culture, new media, and hybrid cosmopolitan subjects.

More about Pallabi Chakravorty
Pallabi Chakravorty is the Director of Dance and Associate Professor in the Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College, where she teaches interdisciplinary theory courses on performance and studio courses in Kathak dance and dance making. Her ethnographic research in India has resulted in several publications and choreographies. The interdisciplinary publications are spread through journals of Dance, Anthropology, History, and Literary studies. Her books include Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women and Modernity in India (Seagull/University of Chicago, 2008), This is How We Dance Now: Performance in the Age of Bollywood and Reality Shows (Oxford University Press, 2017); Three co-edited books Performing Ecstasy: The Poetics and Politics of Religion in India, 2009, Dance Matters: Performing India on Local and Global Stages, 2010, and Dance Matters Too: Markets, Memories, Identities, 2017, and one edited proceedings (Dance in South Asia). She is currently working on a new research project on Yoga, Performance, and Health. Pallabi is the founder and artistic director of Courtyard Dancers, a non-profit dance company based in Philadelphia and Kolkata (

View the full semester calendar

Spring 2019 Dance Concert

Save the Dates


Friday May 3rd at 4:30pm

Saturday May 4th at 8:00pm

Free and open to the public. All ages are welcome. 

Concert Poster Dancers with cell phones

The Department of Music and Dance Welcomes New Dance Faculty Members

We are delighted to announce two new faculty members joining us this fall, Stephanie Liapis and Joseph Small '05.

Stephanie received a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from the University of Washington.  She will be teaching Dance Technique courses Modern I and Modern III and Dance Repertory: Modern this fall semester.  Read more about Stephanie here.

Joe is a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, Dance) and a 2015 graduate of UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (MFA, Dance).  This fall he will be teaching a new Dance Technique course Japanese Dance I and co-teaching Dance Repertory: Taiko with Kim Arrow.  Read more about Joe here.

Stephanie Liapis

New Book Releases by Pallabi Chakravorty

The Department of Music and Dance congratulates Pallabi Chakravorty on her latest publications.

This is How We Dance Now!

Performance in the Age of Bollywood and Reality Shows

For more information about this book and the author please visit this site>

Dance Matters Too

Markets, Memories, Identities

Edited by Pallabi Chakravorty, Nilanjana Gupta.  For more information about this book please visit this site

Book Covers

Music & Dance Summer Funding Opportunity

The Music and Dance Faculty invites applications every January for funding to support summer study in music and dance.  Junior Music and Dance Majors and Minors, and prospective Majors and Minors in the Sophomore class interested in attending a summer program or pursuing private lessons during the summer, submit a proposal to identify the program or outline of their plan of study.  The proposal must include a detailed budget, including transportation, lodging, and any alternate sources of funding that they have received, requested, or intend to request for summer study; it should also indicate what portion they are able to contribute, if any. 

Proposals are due to
Bernadette Dunning or Susan Grossi by
Wednesday February 6, 2019 by 4:00PM.

Students wishing to apply for funding are required to simultaneously apply for a Humanities Division Summer Research Grant (also due February 6).  Details can be found here

Mindful that some summer programs do not send out acceptance notices until later in the spring, we invite them to include alternative plans in your proposal to cover more than one possibility.

Note: Sophomores are eligible for summer funding only if they apply to and are accepted into the major or minor.

faculty and student talking

Dance Alumni

Swarthmore alumni have gone on to dance and choreograph professionally, start or direct companies, pursue graduate work in dance, teach in college and university settings, and work in arts administration. 

While many colleges and universities offer excellent technique classes, Swarthmore stands out because dancers here are able to develop their technique, creative vision, and understanding of dance studies simultaneously. 

See what some Swarthmore Alumni are doing now.

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