Honors Study offers students who meet the standards set by the College and by their major departments the opportunity to combine independent work with regular courses of study.

As a junior dance major who has maintained a 3.5 average in your major courses for the sophomore and junior years, you may at the end of the junior year request permission of your department to be admitted to Honors Study. At this time, in consultation with your major department, you'll formulate a tentative plan for a senior project that has a scope of a year-long project in your declared major.

Some recent honors projects

The Female Body, Myth, and Sexual Power: Women in Italian Renaissance Art

Madeline Bank '20

The Female Body, Myth, and Sexual Power: Women in Italian Renaissance Art

This thesis explores the values about women held by Italian Renaissance society and expressed in visual culture and art from that time. Much of the art from the Renaissance highlights a social shift towards more relaxed and progressive viewpoints on the nude body and secular art. These images also permeate into the contemporary art world and continue to influence art made today. This thesis is a museum exhibition in the format of object lists, extended object labels, essays that explore topics relevant to understanding pieces within the exhibition, and an evening length dance piece exploring themes represented in the objects researched. A museum exhibition and dance performance are advantageous ways to represent and decode themes because museums that display these objects and art about the same often fail to adequately explain the social context that helped create Renaissance images of women. This is particularly upsetting because many of these art pieces represent female sexual violence and blatantly misogynistic themes. Since the negative qualities of these paintings are often overlooked, viewers do not register why these art pieces are harmful and unwittingly continue their visual tropes. The dance accompanying this thesis is a synthesis of the research on images displayed within the exhibition. To further that aim the dancers for this work are nude like the paintings and cause the harmful visuals in the original images to be seen as more real for the audience. The two aspects of the thesis work in tandem to clarify that most of the images of nude women during the Renaissance have an insidious subtext, and that these images require more contextual information if they are to continue to influence the artistic canon that follows them.

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Augie Sherman '18


My honors thesis examines artistic exchange between Cuba and the United States. In addition to crafting a historical synopsis of Técnica Cubana (Cuban Modern Dance) and investigating the interrelated nature of dance and U.S.-Cuban relations, I conducted a close reading of dance reviews by six different dance critics of The New York Times. I found that three harmful themes emerged: an emphasis on the supposed “backwardness” of Cuban choreography, the use of militaristic language to describe Cuban movement, and an exoticization of the Cuban body. This language indicates lingering Cold War tensions between the two countries. American dance critics do not acknowledge Cuba’s innovation, but rather highlight its perceived backwardness by evaluating Cuban choreography through an American dance lens. In the dance work, five women confront the most prominent themes in my research—surveillance, political tension, and alienation.

Mauri Connors '15 Honors Thesis

Mauri Connors '15

Not Moving Forward But Simply Moving: Walk, Write, Work

This is an honors study structured as an artist book, a form of art where the book operates as an object of art in its entirety. At the heart of this research project is an investigation into three key concerns: humans’ decreasing interaction with the natural world, particularly through their bodies; limited and decreasing access to wild spaces; and the human ability to use the body as one way to experience the world and to express emotion, data, and knowledge.  "My argument and belief is that with greater exposure to the wild comes a greater care and love for it for its own sake, and that only with greater exposure can we fully face the human degradation of nature and our disconnect from wild spaces.  To begin to produce this thesis, I established a daily practice of walking and writing.  I maintained this practice from September 20, 2014 through April 18, 2015.  In each of these practices I was inspired by artists such as Hamish Fulton, a British walking artist, whose work is a practice.  To me, good artistic practice is the sustained maintenance of restraint, repeated actions over time, and the cultivation of ideas."

Abby Reich '15

Moving Onward: The Delicate Interplay Amid Nature and Its Inhabitants.

This thesis studied the ongoing competition between humans and nature through site-specific dance.  Herman Hesse’s The City, was used as a loose narrative and was largely the inspiration for my research.  The City is a fairytale about the cyclical development of a human civilization and its relationship with nature. I found The City, to be not only directly relatable to my personal interests in environmentalism, but also relevant to our world’s current and controversial global climate changes, which has profound anthropocentric factors. 

As a dancer, I have experienced the impulse to move in certain ways solely based on the space in which I occupied.  With Hesse’s story as my inspiration, the expression of the human-nature struggle through dance brings forth questions about how humans affect the space in which they reside, and how the space in which humans reside affects them.  These questions were explored through a site-specific dance work that views the site, the Connecticut College Arboretum, through a historical, sociological, environmental, and artistic point of view.  This interdisciplinary approach to this site-specific work reveals the interconnectedness involved in the complex relationship between humans and nature, and this work has enabled me to combine my interests in dance and environmental studies.

Rachel Pritzlaff '13

Not a Body, But a Building: Area Under Deconstruction

This honors thesis was a movement and performance investigation fueled by the idea of the role of the physical body in gender studies and queer theory. In order to further the rights and recognize the humanity of every person left out of the dominant discourse, it is important to question what can be done through art to problematize the effect of the radically dramatized division between the conceptions of male and female in our Western culture. By breaking open assumptions of ‘natural gender divisions’ we open up a world of possible identities and embodiments. This yearlong study concluded in both a written thesis and a live dance concert, which was performed in Myers Studio.

"I feel lucky to have had the rare opportunity to choreograph a lengthy, idea-driven work in an environment with readily available space and feedback.  The faculty and other students created a space for simultaneous editing and growing of the idea, while the yearlong (April 2012 - April 2013) timeframe encouraged boldness, reflection, and trial and error.  I learned more about my own choreographic process from this independent project than I could have from any class."

Chloe Spitalny '13

I Saw a Thing: Welcoming Performance into Our Everyday ...

"In my hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., there has been a surge of money and interest invested into the creation and display of public sculpture across the city. The effect of that investment is palpable. Not only does the art beautify the city, but it engages the public. Chattanooga’s public art project allows all types of populations to be exposed to the visual arts, engage in conversations about the work, and take pride in the artistic community in which they live. 1As I have watched this public art movement unfold I feel incredibly excited and energized, but I also feel a sense of envy towards the visual arts. Programs like Chattanooga's public art initiative make it possible for visual art to be seen and appreciated by populations that may not go out of their way to visit a gallery or museum. These sculptures shape the places in which they are displayed and the hundreds of people, who walk by them daily, rain and shine, night and day. My project began because I wondered if dance could engage the public in a similar manner. Could dance become an everyday feature in our lives? This question is ultimately what inspired me to take on the ambitious project of creating a dance that is performed in the same place, at the same time, every single day of my final semester at Connecticut College."

Emma Judkins '11 presenting

Emma Judkins '11


Emma Judkins '11 presented "FRAMEWORK" in May 2011, an honors thesis performance that reflected the culmination of year and a half-long study of the processes and structures that connect language and dance.

"This thesis study is an exercise in clarity. My artistic purpose is to investigate and connect movement and language structures in dance performance, choreographic dance making, and the practice of dance as a part of life. In my effort to define this experience, and myself more clearly, I am searching for a way to see how deeply I care if choreography, specifically my own choreography, is received in the manner I wish it to be or expect it to be understood. I feel as though dance has innumerable ways of intersecting with language. There is language in physical, movement-oriented vocabulary that seeks to communicate via the human form. There is language that is used to talk about dance, its social, cultural, and aesthetic impacts and ramifications. There is language inside the performing dancer, negotiating the choices and intentions of the body. There are words and text within dance, or the use of language whether written, spoken, or drawn in a performance space."

Wayne Ong '11

This honors thesis was a foray into the mechanics of physical humor primarily focused on the works of Chaplin and Keaton. The research and analysis culminated in a final performance piece titled "Goldintrudlocks," a re-telling of the Goldilocks fairytale with a contemporary twist.

"'It is always important to find the funnies in life,' I once heard a comedian quip. Humor breaks boundaries and builds relationships, and learning to infuse that with the physicality of dance truly melded two sides of me that I am deeply fond of and passionate about."

Khadija Griffith '11,

Khadija Griffith '11


Khadija Griffith '11 completed her honors thesis by working as a choreographer/ director/ filmmaker and editor/ wardrobe designer/ and writer for both site-specific work on the College campus as well as a performance held in Myers Studio at Connecticut College. Griffith's dance project is titled "TARiYAN 030"; the written portion is titled "The Journey to Being Seen."

"I invited a group of six movers to work with me in creating a closely knit unit we called the Team. We inspired to represent those silenced by society and express their stories through movement. The site-specific work took place at multiple landmarks of Connecticut College as well as our infiltration of a social gathering. The Team wore customized uniforms, gloves and facemasks to draw the attention to the movement instead of the individual. Our work culminated in a performance held at Myers Studio, where movement, live painting and a film, documenting the site-specific work, was shown."