Combining the art of dance with scientific principles

The mission of the Dance Science degree program is to prepare students with a breadth of knowledge in the sub disciplines of dance science and for students to reach their highest technical and creative potential in a variety of dance forms. The focus is on the practical application of scientific principles to enhance dance and movement performance, improve dance training, reduce injury and contribute to the overall well being of dancers. The Dance Science program uniquely combines elements of the Exercise Science curriculum with the Dance Performance and Choreography curriculum while building in flexibility for study abroad and undergraduate research projects.

Interdisciplinary curriculum

Dance Science is an emerging field that combines the study of dance with the application of scientific principles to dance. The degree is comprised of classes already in existence in the Exercise Science Department and the Department of Performing Arts Dance Program. It uniquely draws eight credit hours from Biology, 20 from Exercise Science courses, 20 from Dance and allows the student to choose eight credit hours of electives from ESS, DAN or other approved courses. This provides the student with the flexibility to create a sub-specialty of their choosing.  Requirements for the Dance Science degree can be completed in three years, allowing first year students who arrive at Elon with no clear major the opportunity to discover this area, interview with the program coordinator their first year, and then begin the course of study in the second year.

I always excelled at science, but when it came to picking a major, my passion for dance was undeniably stronger. With Elon’s new degree in Dance Science, I am able to marry both fields without having to give up or devote any less time to my innate passion for movement. The classes in the Dance Science major have aided me in becoming a better dancer by allowing me to understand the physics, anatomy and psychology of dance. I have even been fortunate to conduct my own research comparing the activation of eight different muscles at and away from the barre. No other undergraduate dance program could have prepared me for such a rare opportunity.

Colette Dong, B.F.A. Dance Performance & Choreography and B.S. Dance Science ’14

Expert, accessible faculty

At Elon, students learn from dedicated faculty who have years of expertise in their fields and in academia. Small classes offer students unique access to professors and one-on-one instruction. All faculty maintain professional contacts in their fields, so they are able to help students identity appropriate graduate and professional schools, internships, and career opportunities.

  • Professor Lauren Kearns, chair of the Department of Performing Arts, is a professional choreographer as well as a somatic specialist and published scholar. Her pedagogical research is concerned with the application of somatic theories and practices to technique, performance and creative training. Kearns holds her M.F.A. from UCLA and is certified in Classical Pilates, Vinyasa Yoga and Alignment-Based Yoga.
  • Professor Jen Guy Metcalfe, program coordinator for Dance Science and Dance Performance and Choreography, is a professional choreographer and ballet specialist. Her pedagogical research focuses on training the ballet dancer for the rigors of contemporary dance. Metcalf holds her M.F.A. from UNCG and is trained in Classical Pilates.
  • Professor Renay Aumiller is a professional choreographer and modern dance specialist. Her research lies in somatic applications to modern dance technique and performance. Aumiller earned an M.F.A. in Choreography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a certified Franklin Method Educator.
  • Dr. Caroline Ketcham studies movement control and coordination, seeking to better understand how the central nervous system controls and regulates coordinated movement in healthy individuals and those with neurological disease and/or brain injury. Ketcham holds her Ph.D. from Arizona State University.
  • Dr. Paul Miller’s research involves examination of exercise adaptations and recovery, including issues pertaining to muscle healing, attenuation of delayed onset muscle soreness and supplementation strategies. Dr. Miller directs Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program. Miller holds his Ph.D. from University of Miami.

Excellent facilities and equipment

Dance Science majors work in the Center for the Arts, which houses three state of the art dance studios replete with somatic equipment and in Elon’s Koury Athletic Center, which houses a full complement of health, training, exercise and sports facilities. The Health and Human Performance Laboratory features instrumentation to access body composition, aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance and sport performance. The lab also includes new electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) equipment.

Learning outside the classroom

One of the hallmarks of an Elon education is hands-on learning, and dance science is no exception. Putting the discipline’s skills, approaches and theories to test in real-world situations is essential to a full understanding of the subject. This can be achieved through internships and undergraduate research experiences.

Dance Science majors are strongly encouraged to complete one internship and participate in undergraduate research projects. Both give students invaluable opportunities to sharpen their skills, observe how the industry works, gain experience working with people, build confidence and make valuable industry contacts.

Career options

The Dance Science program is designed to provide a curricular path for students interested in studying the science of dance in order to pursue careers as dance teachers, conditioning and fitness coaches, kinesiotherapists, and researchers in a variety of fields including biomechanics, physiology, somatics, and psychology. This degree prepares students for graduate study in a variety of disciplines including physical or occupational therapy, dance education, dance science, exercise science, medicine.