Embracing and Celebrating Through Dance: Chante Cruse

By Megan Petersen '15, Copy Editor

With graduation quickly approaching, Chante Cruse, a senior dance major, shared some of her experiences, both stressful and rewarding, with The Scripps Voice.

Megan Petersen: What do the dance major and thesis entail? Chante Cruse: There are different majors for dance. The three tracks are Dance Performance/Choreography, Theoretical Studies and Movement Studies. The dance major thesis entails a 40 page paper and a 10 minute piece for the Spring Show this semester, April 13 and 14 at Scripps College. ...In this

written thesis, you talk about the influences for your dance (costumes, advertisements, technique choices, the history of the dance you do, the rehearsal process etc.).

MP: What made you decide to major in dance?

CC: My sophomore year, I intended to dual major in Music Composition and Dance Choreography. I was going to self-design a Jazz Studies major. However, due to the lack of classes at Claremont Colleges on Jazz History, Composition and Jazz Music Theory, I was not able to build a strong enough list of classes for a Jazz Studies major. Then I attempted to simply do a “Composition” track major. It was surprising to me that the music department had a “Composition” track and did not have professors within the department that were qualified to supervise independent studies in this track. After many of the music department’s policies were beginning to affect my grades and morale as a student, I decided to drop this major. It was an extremely difficult decision academically and emotionally. I now have two declared minors, Music and Africana Studies, to support my Dance Choreography major.

MP: What are you doing for your thesis? CC: I will be working on original music for the piece as well as working in concepts from my Africana Studies minor. I do not need a Music or Africana Studies major to incorporate composition and Africana Studies into my thesis with the dance department. This support makes a world of difference for me.

MP: How do you feel about having a thesis that’s not only a research paper? Do you prefer it? CC: I love having more than a paper. It is nice to have something substantial to show for the four years of experience and knowledge I have gained at Scripps College. I think it’s important that dancers be able to convey their creative concepts with clarity and confidence. Holding rehearsals, finding funding, thinking about where to put bodies on stage is important. Had I stayed solely with the music department, I would have never had [this experience]. These skills are so important when expanding your career as an artist, especially a dancer. MP: What have your experiences been with the Scripps Dance Department overall? CC: The dance department was a refreshing change for me. Immediately I was welcomed in by other dancers. If I did not understand something, I was able to arrange to meet with another dancer and have them explain to me clearly what was going on. My dance professors were excited to hear about my diverse interests when I joined the department. They wanted to make sure I began creating a work immediately. One of the great things about the dance department is that you learn so much about not only varieties of dance techniques but also your own creative process. Most importantly, diversity was visible—through the extra programs offered, the students in the classes and the posters on the wall that other cultures were embraced and celebrated through dance. This was so key to my feeling that I belonged in the physical space of the studio and that I belonged as an African American dancer.

MP: What are your personal goals now that you’re close to graduation?

CC: The dance department has inspired and allowed me to go beyond my thesis work and host an event for my community after the Scripps Spring Concert in April! During my four years at Scripps College, I have never seen an all-African American student dance production. In its own way, my dance is the first of its kind at this time. It will be an open movie screening of the movement material, and we will be discussing concepts I was trying to convey. It will be documentary style and hosted at either Pomona or Scripps College. The Black community especially influences my dance paper and movement, and I want to celebrate and discuss the events that have changed our community in the past year and celebrate all of the people from the community, faculty, staff and students I have to thank for helping me excel. My goal is to one day become a Creative Director for a company. I feel my participation in so many different programs has equipped me to facilitate a rehearsal, to compile an event like the one I have coming in April or to assist others when putting on a show (which is required for our major). I think what the dance department asks of us makes us better artists. We are able to translate the experience we gain here into any creative program.