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Research and Methodology

Undergraduate Dance Research

Arts in Action Field Trip

Art historian, Professor Pika Ghosh, teaches "Arts in Action" students about textiles during a visit to The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

At Swarthmore, Dance is a portal through which students are exposed to the multidisciplinary field of Dance research. They engage with myriad modes of inquiry in the field of Dance Studies and related disciplines such as anthropology, dance history and criticism, film and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, and performance studies. Our students learn to analyze dance through their own embodied experiences and by placing dance, movement, and bodies in wider cultural and global contexts. Many pursue graduate school in Dance Studies, an emerging and exciting field, or other performance related disciplines. The theory and method courses in the program include the following foci:

  • Performance as Research
  • Fieldwork and Anthropology 
  • Ethnography and Choreography
  • History and Archives
  • Identity, Race, and Bodies
  • Film, Media and Technology
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Culture and Globalization

Several funding opportunities for research are available to students from the Dance program and other college resources. For more information about student research support, please speak with a faculty advisor about applications and details.

Recent Dance Theses, Choreography Projects, and Honors Research Attachments

All Majors and Honors Minors in Dance write theses and/or create senior projects. Some course minors also choose to pursue thesis or project work, but it is not a graduation requirement.

Lia D’Alessandro ‘21, Dance Major (Choreography)
Senior Project: Collectivity, performed by Louisa Carman ‘21, Emma Dulski ‘22 & Xinrui Jessica Yang ‘21

Louisa Carman '21, Dance Minor, Honors (Choreography)
Senior Project: Duets Set in Stone, performed by Lia D’Alessandro ‘21 & Emma Dulski ‘22
Honors Research Attachment: “Enacting Togetherness or Entrenching New Norms? The Jerusalema Dance Challenge”

Meena Chen ‘21, Dance Minor (Choreography)
Senior Project: Hidden Dragon, performed by Meena Chen 

Sophie Gray-Gaillard ‘20, Dance Major (Choreography)
Senior Project: illume, performed by Lia D’Alessandro ‘21, Emma Dulski ‘22, Gabriel Hearn-Desautels ‘20, Zachary Weiss ‘20 & Emmeline Wolf ‘22
Lighting Design by Oliver Steinglass

Lydia Roe ‘20, Dance Major (Choreography)
Senior Project: Ansa Ya, performed by Meena Chen ‘21, Emma Dulski ‘22, Gwyneth Fletcher ‘22, Lucy Jones ‘20, Iris Liao ‘22, Linda Lin ‘20 & Lilia McGee-Harris ‘21

Rachel Isaacs-Falbel '19, Special Major in Dance and Anthropology
Senior Thesis:  "Pink Tights and Ballet Buns: Understandings of Diversity in Pre-Professional Ballet Programs" 

Zara Williams-Nicholas ‘19 Major in Dance (Choreography)
Senior Project: Weeping Blue Mahoe, performed by Gilbert Clark, Kathryn Riley, Katie Knox ‘22, Meena Chen ‘21 & Nicole Liu ‘21

Marion Kudla ‘19, Dance Minor, Honors (Choreography)
Senior Project: Into Interior, performed by Lia D’Alessandro ‘21, Emma Dulski ‘22, Sophie Gray-Gaillard ‘20, Katie Knox ‘21 & Emmeline Wolf ‘22
Honors Research Attachment: “Nature and Choreography: Dance as Environmental Advocacy”

Spring 2020: Performance as Research

Sophie Gray-Gaillard, Ainsley Knox, and Meena Chen perform outside their homes for their final African dance repertory movement. Musical arrangement by Wesley Rast, Jeannine Osayande, Ira Bond, and Daryl Kwasi Burgee.

Alexis Metoyer, Meena Chen, Omar Saleh, Emma Dulski, and Lydia Roe created dance videos at home for their Dance Lab final projects.

Taiko repertory students practice final drumming projects from their homes.

Ballet students coordinated video meetings and choreography for their final rehearsals and showing.

Sophie Gray-Gaillard, Ainsley Knox, and Meena Chen perform outside their homes for their final African dance repertory movement. Musical arrangement by Wesley Rast, Jeannine Osayande, Ira Bond, and Daryl Kwasi Burgee.

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