The dance program has been developed to complement Luther College’s liberal arts program. Not only are our majors and minors prepared for careers in dance, they also develop skills that are applicable to any field. Three students reflect on their experiences of dance and the liberal arts at Luther.
This is not your typical dance program. It is designed to encourage all disciplines (science, writing, art, strategy, etc.). In class, students are given the opportunity to use their bodies as a tool for investigation and learning. This experience opens up new perspectives that students can use in all of their classes.
The curriculum supports students on their journey to understand themselves and their relation to the world. Students are encouraged to discuss different ideas, concepts, and feelings we encounter in class. As a result, I have seen myself and others grow into far more articulate and developed human beings through dance courses.
Professor Jane Hawley teaches her students that they can do anything, that they can enter any field and have something valuable to offer. In the final month of my senior year at Luther, I took a course in Maui with professors Jane Hawley and Guy Nave. There, we studied dance, religion, philosophy and sustainable farming. While I had been ready to move to a big city and start my dance career, the land where we studied called to me, and I returned to intern on the farm the fall after graduation. When I finished the internship, I was promoted to a management position. I have now been managing the farm and the education center for over a year. I manage the crops, oversee projects, and sell our produce to local markets.
I knew nothing about agriculture when I got on the plane for the class, and yet my transition to farmer was seamless. I knew how to lead projects in the field because the dance curriculum trained me how to collaborate and organize people. I knew how to listen to the plants, how to observe and interact with them, because I learned to observe and interact with my body and environment at Luther. And I know now that I can do anything. I can be a farmer or a healer or an activist or a writer or maybe a dancer if it’s where my heart leads me.
Unlike other collegiate dance programs, studying dance at Luther does not predestine a student for a dance career. The curriculum, in addition to preparing them for a profession in dance, prepares its students for work in many fields. Luther dance students pursue careers in medicine, occupational therapy, and elementary education–to name a few. After experiencing this curriculum first hand I understand where this adaptability comes from. The program teaches both somatic intelligence and social intelligence, which is vital to any career.