The Penn students organizing a petition asking the University to implement for-credit dance classes have made moves on their agenda to get their plan approved.
After receiving over 500 signatures on their Change.org petition and hosting a “Dance Dance Revolution” event last week to raise awareness about their cause, organizers of the campaign plan to meet with a professor from the Provost’s Art and Culture Faculty Steering Committee to push for further administrative changes. Organizers are also trying to meet with College of Arts Sciences Dean Dennis DeTurck.
“As Penn has been expanding its course offerings, it has increasingly focused on interdisciplinary study between our four undergraduate schools,” the statement in the petition said. “Dance is a perfect avenue to encourage this form of study.”
“Over the summer, I was thinking about my academic life here at Penn and thought about how I would love to study dance in a classroom,” Wharton junior Alexandria Wiggins, chair of the Dance Arts Council and creator of the petition, said. “I have been dancing my whole life, and as a Wharton student I’ve become more interested in arts management, specifically within the dance industry.”
Wiggins, who developed the petition with as part of their Management 104 class, said that compared to other performing arts such as theater, voice and instrumental music, dancing is the only one without academic credit, which doesn’t match with its popularity on campus, considering that hundreds of students audition for and join dance groups each year.
“I find this to be problematic for a school that prides itself on not only having a diverse array of academic opportunities, but also being arts-friendly,” she said.
Moreover, Penn is the only school in the Ivy League that does not offer dance courses.
“It is unfair that dance is the only performing art not offered for a credit at Penn to the current students here,” Hsia said. “It also makes us less competitive in the eyes of prospective students who also love dance, in relation to other colleges and the other Ivy League schools.”
After talking with professors and administrators about how to make it happen, Wiggins decided with some students in her management class to “tackle this head-on with a petition and an event to gain awareness.”
This petition has received positive support from the dancing community at Penn.
“Talk about dance classes has been going on for a while,” President of Penn Hype and College senior Brian Hsia said. “Nothing formal has been organized until now, but I know a lot of dancers at Penn have been wanting to see more resources allocated towards dance education for a long time.”
President of Penn Dance Sara Cohen agreed.
“There is definitely a lot of enthusiasm around the movement for dance for credit in the larger dance community at Penn,” Cohen, a College senior, said. “Dance is an integral part of our lives, not just an extracurricular activity, so getting credit for our work would likely feel very rewarding.”