Just ask Fred Mueller, chairman of the Department of Exercise and Sports Science, and he'll tell you it's right where it belongs. "We've had dance in this department as long as I can remember," he said.
The traditional link between a sports-oriented department and dance focuses more on its physical aspects than artistic qualities. "We look at it as a physical activity, good for fitness, good for lifetime activity," Mueller said.
Susan W. Stinson, head of the Dance Department at UNC-Greensboro, agrees. But she added that it's not that simple. "The word dance means many different things," she said. "Physical activity is one of the things it is -- but it is also an art form. We very much approach dance as an art form."
Other faculty at UNC-G concur that the situation facing UNC-CH dance is not uncommon. "The old academic idea still considers (dance) more of a sport than an art form," said Jan E. Van Dyke, professor of dance at UNC-G and coordinator of the annual N.C. Dance Festival.
While being part of the exercise and sports science department, UNC-CH faculty member Marian Hopkins, the University's primary dance instructor, must keep in mind the mission of her fitness-oriented department. But she said she also works very hard to provide her students with an appreciation for dance's artistry.
"I think, artistically, dance would fit better in music or drama, but the facilities are here, and that's one of the drawbacks," Hopkins said. "If the other departments could present space we could use, that would be great, but it's very complicated money-wise and space-wise."
To compensate for a lack of arts-oriented attention, Hopkins and dancers at UNC-CH keep the University on its toes with their dance group, the ModernExtension Dance Company. "ModernExtension is there to allow students an outlet for performing dance," she said.
One of many dance clubs forced to work outside the realm of an official department, ModernExtension works year-round to put together a performance every spring. But leotards don't buy themselves, so the group obtains funding from the student-run Sports Club Council.
Funding from the Sports Club Council goes toward costumes, a trip to the Regional College Dance Festival and financing the use of Memorial Hall for their performances.