Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Dance
IX. THE RELATIONSHIP OF DANCE AND P.E.: EVALUATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
We were charged with recommending how a newly created academic dance program might work
with the Athletics Department. Until recently, the dance program operated wholly within P.E. The
dance faculty and staff reported to the Director of Athletics, the dance budgets were part of the larger
Athletics budget, the upper Lasell gym was used as a dance venue, and dance classes were offered
only for P.E. credit. Now, as the dance program transitions into the academic realm, we need to
clarify and redefine its relationship with P.E.
We agreed that it would not be a good idea for dance and P.E. to be mutually dependent. That is, the
dance curriculum should not depend on certain courses being offered by P.E., nor should P.E. depend
on dance to offer specific courses to meet the demands of P.E. students. Similarly, dance should be
administratively and financially independent of P.E.
B. Questions that the committee addressed
1. What dance courses are currently taught in P.E.?
• African Dance Music (Sandra)
• Beginning Ballet (Janine Parker)
• Intermediate/Advanced Ballet (Janine Parker)
• Irish Dance (Holly)
• Modern Dance (Sandra/Erica Dankmeyer/Holly)
• Pilates (Holly)
2. What is the demand for these courses?
Holly estimated that quarterly enrollments per course range from 3–18 students. It is worth
noting that students who participate in the dance ensembles are required to enroll in the P.E.
dance technique courses. Thus, at least some of the demand for dance courses within P.E. is
generated by the extracurricular ensembles.
3. What other P.E. courses are or might be useful for students interested in dance?
• Dance-specific weight training classes (not offered at this time)
4. Will P.E. continue to offer dance technique courses?
No. The assumption is that Sandra and Holly will no longer teach P.E. courses, and that all dance
courses will be taught instead as part of the dance program. This would seemingly reduce the number
of P.E. options available to students, but in fact P.E. will continue to grant P.E. credit to students who
enroll in academic dance technique courses (see below) and/or participate in a dance ensemble.
5. Might students ever receive P.E. credit for academic courses taught by dance faculty?
Yes. Holly agreed that all students enrolled for academic credit in academic courses that include
technique exercises should also receive P.E. credit, just as they do for participation in the
ensembles. Further, students would be able to enroll in the academic technique courses purely for the
purpose of receiving P.E. credit; i.e., they would not have to fulfill the academic requirements for
those courses. She did not feel that the presence of P.E. students would be disruptive of the academic
content of these courses, nor of class pedagogy.
6. How do students register for P.E. credit in the Dance Program?
Dance courses that will accept the enrollment of students for P.E. credit should indicate this option in
the course catalog. Then, so that the dance faculty can predict and control the numbers of P.E.
students who enroll, the students should register directly with the faculty member in charge of the
course. Thus, the registration process will not run through the Registrar’s office nor through the P.E.
department. The P.E. department will instead refer all interested dance students directly to the dance
faculty. Upon the completion of a dance course with P.E. students enrolled, the dance faculty will
forward a list of those students to the P.E. department, and the P.E. department will notify the
Registrar’s Office so that the P.E. credit can be recorded properly. Participation in a one-semester
dance course will be worth two P.E. credits; participation in half of a dance course, if allowed (see
below), will be worth one P.E. credit.
7. Since P.E. classes are generally half-semester classes, may students attend half of a
dance class? Or must they sign up for a full semester?
The dance faculty would strongly prefer for P.E. students to participate for the entire semester,
rather than just for one quarter (half a semester). Thus, the official policy should be that P.E.
students enroll for the full semester or not at all. Exceptions can be made on occasion by the dance
faculty if the rotation of P.E. students at mid-semester will not be disruptive of the learning
experience for the rest of the class.
8. Might students ever be able to receive academic credit for courses taught in P.E.?
No. P.E. does not offer any courses for academic credit.
9. How are classes structured so that the experience of students taking the class for
academic credit is substantially different from those taking the class for P.E. credit?
The structure of each dance course will of course be left to the discretion of the dance faculty, but it
is assumed that the dance technique portion of each course will be distinct from the academic
portion and that students enrolled for academic credit will attend some class meetings that are
separate and distinct from those open to P.E. students. Students enrolled for academic credit might
typically engage in more detailed analysis of technical dance movement, undertake readings and
critical reviews of dance performances, and participate in classroom discussion about particular
developments or dance techniques.
10. Might the Dance Program ever offer technique-only courses that would count for P.E.
credit but not for academic credit?
In the short term, the dance program will not design technique-only courses for the purpose of
providing P.E. credit opportunities. But there might be special opportunities such as master classes
or independent studies with visiting artists-in-residence that P.E. would consider for credit. In
addition, Janine Parker is currently offering ballet as a P.E. course, and it is conceivable that she or
others like her might offer courses during a transition period that would continue to provide P.E.
credit but which would not include an academic component. The only
difference would be that these courses would not be offered by P.E. faculty and staff. They would be
organized and offered under the auspices of the dance program, and presumably would be offered
within dance space. Should staffing for the dance program increase in the future, it might be feasible
for the faculty once again to offer technique-only courses designed primarily for P.E. students.
11. What are the financial implications on P.E., and on dance, if any, of separating their
The transition carries no cost to P.E., as the department will not purchase new equipment or hire new
staff to maintain a separate dance curriculum. The cost of an enhanced dance program will be
significant, especially if it involves hiring new faculty or staff, but simply separating the curricula
will be cost-neutral.
12. Are there any physical or spatial resources in P.E. that dance depends on, or that could
continue to be used by the dance program?
Students who participate in dance will certainly continue to use the fitness center, the pool, and
other P.E. facilities to work on conditioning, stretching, and strengthening, as appropriate. They
would have the same status within P.E. as all Williams College students. However, Lisa Wilk is an
athletic trainer who knows about dance related injuries and might be able to help dance students in
The subcommittee recommends that P.E. and dance continue to work together to award P.E. credit to
students who participate in academic dance classes, the ensembles, and special dance events. They
should also work independently to make sure that students know of the opportunity to fulfill P.E.
requirements via some dance offerings. The masthead for Dance in the course catalog, for instance,
should outline the policy regarding the enrollment of P.E. students in academic dance courses, and
each course description should make clear whether or not P.E. students are welcome. Similarly, any
announcements or literature about P.E. offerings produced by the P.E. department should refer
interested students to the Dance Program to ask about taking dance courses for P.E. credit. Otherwise,
the subcommittee recommends that the P.E. curriculum and the dance curriculum be clearly and
cleanly separated. P.E. will no longer offer dance courses, though they might offer courses that will
be beneficial to dancers. And the Dance Program will no longer offer P.E. courses, though they might
offer courses or other opportunities that will count for P.E. credit. The same recommendation—a
distinct separation—applies to staffing, budgeting, and allocation of space. P.E. should no longer
depend on Sandra, Holly, or any other dance faculty or staff member to provide service to the P.E.
department. And therefore, dance would have no special claim to financial, spatial, or other resources
within the PE department.