By Cait Kemp
At first thought, a degree in dance may seem limited with what one can go on and do as a career. Dancing professionally, or teaching dance, are probably the two things most think of for the options one has. However, dance is a very powerful program of study that can result in a variety of different careers and focuses.
Of course, some are interested in dancing professionally and teaching, but there are many interesting paths that others want to take. Senior Alexandra MacPherson, for example, is majoring in Dance and Physical Therapy and wants to go on to work with professional or collegiate dancers to “enhance performance and longevity of the dancer body.”
MacPherson said, “I also hope to open up my own clinic or studio to provide preventative and rehabilitative services to dancers and other athletes.”
MacPherson is just one example of the unique interests that are possible through the dance program at Springfield College. Other students pair dance with programs like recreational management, art therapy, business, psychology, and occupational therapy.
“So, there’s just so many different ways depending on what students are interested in that they could go… it is such a wide range, you know something that is important to me when I meet someone in the dance major is to hear what they’re interested in,” said Sarah Zehnder, Director of Dance.
Along with the many options for courses, there is also a study abroad program. Students who participate are able to go to Florence, Italy for 3-weeks and have the opportunity to take classes from both Italian and American choreographers and perform at a venue at the end of the trip.
“I am so grateful for the diversity of classes and opportunities provided by the program,” said MacPherson. “The program continues to teach me about the world of dance and society in such a holistic way.”
The dance program has partnered with Jacob’s Pillow, an international dance festival held in Becket Mass. that offers internship and networking opportunities to students at Springfield College.
“It’s the longest running dance festival in the United States, and they bring in over 100 different companies from all over the world,” said Zehnder.
The list goes on of what the dance program offers to students. Zehnder has worked hard since she arrived at Springfield College to build these opportunities for students and create new and diverse courses that allow students to find these passions.
“Part of that is recognizing what I’m able to bring and what’s missing, so what ways can I create a platform or amplify voices outside of myself so students see themselves represented in the people coming to teach,” Zehnder said.
Most recently created was the Dancers Against Racism series that brings in different artists to conduct Zoom sessions with not only dance students but the Springfield College community as well.
Zehnder said, “The Dancers Against Racism series felt like something that I could do that was immediate, to bring other voices into the room to work with the students and even the community.”
Sessions address different topics such as race and social justice and bring it into the dance world to offer unique and powerful perspectives on what is going on in the world.
From new courses, traveling opportunities, internships, and even a series dedicated to bringing in professional artists and their experiences, the Springfield College dance program is one that is to be envied for its distinctive features and level of expertise.
Photos: Sarah Zehnder