The Arts Advantage: Dance is the Balancing Force that Challenges this Software Engineer

Claudie Chapman
Photo credit: Lee Gumbs

Claudia Chapman (B.S. Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, minor Dance ’22) is focusing on the software side of computer engineering.

Although her passion for technology can be traced back to her kindergarten days, her specific love for coding developed during high school, when she took advantage of every computer science course offered.

At Duke, Claudia is a Computer Science teaching assistant and a DTech scholar, and she is just as dedicated with her dance training — minoring in the Dance Program, taking studio-based dance classes each semester and performing in three student-run dance clubs.  

Below, Claudia discusses why she’s making a conscious effort to include dance in her studies.  


What brought you to the Dance Program at Duke?

Prior to college, I trained and worked with many choreographers, including Chloe Arnold, Al Blackstone and Andy Blankenbuehler. And one of my main reasons for choosing Duke was the ability to continue my rigorous dance training at an esteemed academic institution.

I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of acceptance that I felt when I entered The Ark dance studio as a prospective student. The dancers were typing on their computers and sitting in their splits while waiting for class to start. I felt understood, and maintaining both my engineering and dance education at a level that allowed me to choose which path to pursue professionally upon graduation was a priority for me.

How has your time in the Dance Program benefitted your STEM studies?

In general, the presence of dance in my life has taught me discipline, dedication, perseverance and how to handle rejection and failure with grace — while giving me so many life lessons that are applicable across the board.

More specifically, dance allows me to connect with my creativity, which is hugely beneficial in my studies of software engineering. While dance is painful, it’s physically difficult rather than mentally (most of the time), and this is in direct contrast to what I do when I’m sitting at my computer.

It’s a balancing force that challenges me in ways different from my engineering studies, allowing me to rest those parts of me while keeping the other parts active. Honestly, without dance, I wouldn’t be me. And even though I’ll be moving to New York City after graduation to begin my career in finance, I intend to continue my dance training.