Dancing through Hope’s History

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Curtis Gruenler and Professor Alex Galarza

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Dance is the art of capturing emotion by creating movement that pulls an audience in, makes them think, and makes them feel. Yet, the art form is often misunderstood, especially within a traditional Dutch, old-fashioned, church community such as Holland, Michigan, the home of Hope College. The college’s dance department is unique in that the student is nurtured technically, academically, and spiritually. However, the relationship between Hope College’s dance department and its religious values as a reformed-tradition college is complex. When dance was first taught in the late 1960s, Hope’s administration could not bring themselves to pay someone a salary for teaching dance classes. Thus, for two years Maxine Debruyn, the founder of Hope’s dance department, was paid in paintings. With time, attitudes changed and the program was allowed to grow. Today, Hope’s dance department is an integral part of the campus community. This project explores the manifestation and transformation of dance in the Hope College community in relation to the values of the Reformed Church of America by examining the department both then and now.

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