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What Does “Healthy” Mean?

It wasn’t so long ago that university dance programs were affiliated with physical education departments, and some schools were slower than others in moving their dance students into the humanities. At Stanford, this happened in 1996, just in time for Chelsea Clinton’s visit to the campus, when the dance division switched from the Athletics Department to the Drama Department. Dr. Janice Ross, who now heads Stanford’s Dance Division, said the aim of the program in previous decades had been “giving girls a good experience in movement rather than producing artists.”

With its transition from athletics to humanities, dance has challenged assumptions about its purpose, such as illustrating physical virtuosity, as well as its practitioners, namely agile bodies, especially female bodies. Even so, these definitions remain among some audiences and in certain contexts. Conversations about the role of dancing in societies and who are deemed “suitable” to dance did not always accompany the shift to different departments. Read the rest of this article at

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