AT A GLANCE
Jordan Wanderer, a rising senior at Mills, and
Paris Williams, a rising junior at Hollins, share their
THE ALL-WOMAN ENVIRONMENT
Jordan Wanderer: “As dancers, we are
empowered to claim space and understand the
power of our weight. It’s a welcoming environment
rooted in unapologetic exploration.”
Paris Williams: “There’s a different intimacy. It
allows me to really focus on what I want, and
practicing that mind-set is preparing me for when I
am in a bigger place.”
A TYPICAL DAY
JW: Technique class; lunch; rehearsal; dance theory
or composition classes; science lecture or lab;
rehearsals for student work.
PW: Dance class; a gender and women’s studies
class or sociology class; rehearsal; weekly RA
meeting; dinner; repertory class; possible rehearsal.
JW: “We work very closely with the coed grad
students. We are always taking classes with men
and potentially dancing in each other’s work.
Contact improv or partnering of any kind is gender-
PW: “Our graduate program is coed—some grad
students are here year-round, and there are a lot of
male dancers here in the summer.”
JW: Wanderer is an ambassador for the
undergraduate dancers at Mills, acting as a
resource for prospective students and answering
questions about the department.
PW: Williams is the external chair for the Hollins
Repertory Dance Company, and is earning a
leadership certificate through the school’s Batten
Leadership Institute. “It’s a way for us to navigate
and redefine what leadership means. With pretty
much any situation, you can think of yourself as a
leader, big or small.” n
On the surface, the offerings at women’s colleges are similar to those of other small liberal arts colleges.
But Lynn Garafola, co-chair of the dance department at Barnard College, notes the intimate settings are
tailored to meet the specific needs of women. These dance departments view the field from a female
perspective, and help students thrive as leaders. “They get a heightened awareness of women’s place
in the universe,” says Garafola. Jordan Wanderer, a rising senior at Mills College majoring in dance and
biology, says she’s found that students become more empowered: “We are not afraid to speak our minds
and to stand up for ourselves.” That approach can change how dancers see themselves in the studio and
beyond. “As women, we’re socialized to be small,” says Paris Williams, a rising junior dance major and
social justice minor at Hollins University. “I’ve learned how to take up space and be okay with that.”
Women’s colleges foster female
leadership and empowerment.
in Loni Landon’s