Though people rarely relate science and dance, the Carolina Dance Science club combines these interests and aims to educate dancers on healthy practices.
Lily Cohen, a fourth-year dance performance and choreography student and club president, established the club during her freshman year. Cohen was inspired after connecting with her ballet teacher who has a background in dance science and is on the board of the International Association of Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS).
“(My teacher) talked to me about all the research she's done, all her involvement with dance science," Cohen said. "I thought it was amazing, because my two favorite things and passions combined into one. Really expanding the knowledge because it's a new world of dance science happening everywhere.”
Two University of South Carolina faculty members help lead the club. Jennifer Deckert, an associate professor in the dance program and the associate chair of the department of theatre and dance, teaches alongside André Megerdichian, an assistant professor of dance. The two met at a previous IADMS conference.
Aside from teaching dance wellness, Deckert said one of the best things students can learn from the club is that there is a whole career field combining dance and science beyond exercise science.
“I've had several students who come to this club and realize that they can make a career out of combining their interests in medicine and in dance, or in science and in dance,” Deckert said. “A lot of students just don't even realize that that's a possibility of, ‘Oh, I can go become a PT that just works with dancers' ... There's so many facets to it.”
Vice president and third-year dance-science student Ella Sanders joined the club after she felt discontent in high school from dealing with a concussion. While she was injured, she felt like dancers weren’t treated the same as other athletes.
“It was frustrating to find a health care professional who understood the language of dance,” Sanders said. “So, I felt like I had another obstacle to try to explain exactly what I was doing while I was concussed, which was kind of hard.”
The club's meeting topics change dynamically depending on what members are up to and oftentimes focus on physical and mental wellness. Third-year exercise science student Kendall Doyle is the secretary of the club and said that there isn’t a normal type of meeting within the club.
“We do focus a lot on prevention, especially when we kind of base it on what the company's doing,” Doyle said. “Some of us will be performing one week, so maybe we'll do the best exercises to do before you go on stage, or how to tackle anxiety, because sometimes those performances may fall on your exams.”
The Carolina Dance Science club welcomes anyone — dance or science student or not — to learn about the wellness of the body.
“I wouldn't let the words dance and the word science scare people away,” Sanders said. “I think everyone can bring something to our club. It doesn't really matter what background you're from.”