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Major Changes in the Dance Department: A reintroduction of the Dance major to Eastern’s curriculum.

In 2019, Eastern students thought they were saying goodbye to the last ever dance majors to
graduate from the university; however, dancers were happily surprised at the reinstatement of the major
last spring.

Eastern University’s Dance Department is now offering the dance major, starting this semester, with a
course load of 36-37 credits. The overall credits for the major have been reduced down from the major back in 2019 but is more comprehensive than the minor. The 33-credit major is flexible, allowing students to pursue their love for the arts, and potentially a different passion as well.

Laura Schoenhals, a junior dance and psychology major, discusses her experience of juggling both majors. “I am double majoring in psychology and dance, and also pursuing minors in math and Spanish,” Schoenhals said. “The course load is similar to the course load for the psychology major, because it is 33 credits and the psychology major is 39 credits. Balancing both majors has been quite doable because both majors are fairly flexible about which order you take classes in.”

Unlike some of the other newly offered majors, the Dance Department is offering all classes needed to
graduate with the major this year; however, some of the courses are only offered every other year.

Courses are taught by Dance Program Director, Stephen Welsh, and Adjunct Faculty, Michelle Wurtz.
Professors are well versed in their training, which allows courses to vary in technique and style. The senior seminar for the major includes a self-produced and choreographed performance as the senior thesis. The class of 2022 will be the first class to graduate with the reinvented major.

Eastern’s Dance Department takes a different approach to learning than some other studios or
universities. “I have had to take a lot more initiative as a dancer and be more responsible for my own continuing education” Schoenhals said. “Sometimes I find this frustrating, but ultimately I think it has been a really valuable skill to develop that will ensure I continue dancing after graduation. The community of the dance department has been very welcoming and supportive, which I really appreciate.”

The Dance Department is still offering the dance minor, which consists of 18-20 credits. Many of the
requirements for the minor overlap with the major; however, the major gives a more in-depth study into the world of dance.

Schoenhals describes her experience in the dance classes she’s taken. “I have taken ten dance classes with the department. My favorite classes are the technique classes, particularly modern dance,” Schoenhals said. “I also really enjoyed World Dance, which fulfills a Gen-ed requirement. Another class that was really interesting to me was Liturgical Dance History, where we looked into how church and dance have related throughout history. This course is fairly unique to Eastern because there are a few places where you can study dance history with regards to church practice.”

Eastern University’s Dance Department strives to engage students physically, intellectually, socially, and
emotionally, while anchored in Christ. The department is always looking for students who want to be in the dance major, minor, or just looking to dance. Contact Stephen Welsh, swelsh@eastern.edu, for more information.

Sources: Eastern University

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