Engaging The Dance-Thinker

Classes not only employ basic stretching but also include guest choreographers such as MUSC’s Group Exercise and Fitness Director, James Johnson (pictured top left).

By Maggie Carpenter ’21, Content and Community Manager Intern

Walking into an English class at 9:15 on a Tuesday morning, one would expect to see students hunched over desks, sipping on coffee, and going through the motions of a typical weekday morning. However, walk into Stern Center Room 205 on a Tuesday or Thursday around that time and you will find both students and professor outfitted in activewear warming up for the day’s lesson. This is no ordinary class – this is “Dr. Meg” Scott-Copses’ HONS 381 class: Engaging the Dance-Thinker.

In this interdisciplinary course, experienced dancers and non-dancers alike combine the physical and mental acts of thinking, “work[ing] with and through the body to choreograph, compose, and enact written and physical texts.” By pairing two very different modes of communication, the assignments and activities reinforce the idea that the body and the mind work hand-in-hand.  “We typically think of writing as a cerebral act and dance as a physical act, but both are communicative, both make use of imagery, and both are composed from phrases,” says Scott-Copses, “It’s been fun to explore overlapping ideas of ‘choreographing’ in both writing and dance.”

Scott-Copses, who also teaches dance and fitness classes, spends a lot of time thinking about the role of the body in teaching and in generating new knowledge. “I wanted to introduce my writing students to methods that draw on both body and sensation-oriented ways of knowing,” says Scott-Copses. “How can we tap into what we might call our “felt sense” to achieve flow in both writing and in dance?”

Students read aloud to one another and while performing pre-writing stretching and breathing work.

Many lessons will begin with stretching and dynamic movement, and from there the twelve members of the class will discuss assigned readings and writings. Classes not only employ basic stretching but also include guest choreographers such as MUSC’s Group Exercise and Fitness Director, James Johnson and Jenny Broe, Owner and Director of Dance Lab.

“I was very active in high school, dancing around twenty hours a week. Then, I came to college and stopped exercising altogether,” said Madison Ling ’20. “I was used to being very aware and engaged in my classes, but suddenly I just wasn’t. This semester, I’ve started working out more, and it’s completely changed me in my classes. I have a Fiction Writing class after [Dr. Meg’s] class and I’m much more engaged in that class because I danced for an hour and forty-five minutes beforehand. It’s cool how it affects your brain, how you’re much more aware and awake and can be engaged with the material that you’re working with.”

HONS 381: Engaging the Dance-Thinker is an example of an Honors College interdisciplinary course. Learn more about other unique Honors Courses here. To get a sense of the courses currently available to our students, check out our course listings.


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