Dance at Davidson strikes a new attitude
by Kelly Beggs
At Davidson , dance is evolving into an academic discipline. Starting this fall, dance classes count for academic credit.
Alison Bory, Davidson’s first visiting assistant professor of dance, is a joint professor at Davidson and Queens University in Charlotte, teaching three classes at each institution for this academic year. Bory’s two fall classes at Davidson are Introduction to Dance, a lecture-driven class, and Modern Dance Technique, which has a large studio component.
Clark Ross, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, said, “I was so pleased to hire someone with Alison’s qualifications—she’s just a perfect fit.”
Bory earned her Ph.D. in dance history and theory and her MFA in experimental choreography from University of California, Riverside. She has been dancing, teaching, and choreographing since she was young, but after studying the art with academic depth, she said, “The work I make has changed.”
“Because dance is physical, it often gets dismissed,” she said, “but there is an active intellectual process involved in dancing. Modern dance in particular is born out of the need to validate that dance is a scholarly subject.”
Both of Bory’s fall classes are full, which is no surprise, considering student enthusiasm for her specialty—consistently more than 100 students perform in Dance Ensemble’s bi-annual performances, making the group the largest student organization on campus.
Bory says she is especially excited about “the student initiative involved in bringing these classes to the campus.” Davidson’s Physical Education Department will continue to offer dance classes for lifetime credit, and extracurricular organizations, like Dance Ensemble, will continue to be student-run. However, Bory’s classes will provide students with the opportunity to study a physical art form with academic intensity.
Photo: Bill Giduz