Course Profile: HON 205 Brazilian Music and Dance

Some of the most unique and beloved courses offered by the Honors Program are HON 205 classes, or Interdisciplinary Arts. These courses explore the interconnection of art and its cultural contexts, delving into the complex and fascinating roles art plays in our lives. One of the sections offered explores Brazilian Music and Dance, taught by Professor Cathy Elias. This class studies Samba, the archetypical Brazilian song form, and Carnaval dances that have become a form of cultural heritage and self-image for Brazilians. Professor Elias was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about this course, giving incredible insight into the power of music and dance.

With an impressive background in music and cultural studies, Professor Cathy Elias has always been enthralled with the power of music. Her class explores how music holds a mirror to society, offers new approaches to explore complex issues, and is a force that connects us all. Professor Elias also highlights how important it is to step into the unknown and challenge ourselves to explore outside our comfort zone. She emphasizes how it is crucial to enter unfamiliar contexts, be eager to listen and learn, and be open to changing one’s opinions or worldviews. 

Through a variety of pedagogical approaches, this class fully embraces the idea of interdisciplinary studies. A typical week consists of lots of music, interspersed with visits from a mix of incredible guest speakers. A couple of these visits entail lessons on Brazilian dance and instrumentation, which Professor Elias was kind enough to provide pictures and videos of (check them out below)! Again, this class is about pushing yourself and fully embracing new experiences, an idea Professor Elias encourages at every step.

For those interested in taking a leap and exploring the beauty of Brazilian music and dance, Professor Elias typically teaches this section of HON 104 every winter quarter. Learning to step into the unknown and appreciate differences is an incredible skill and one that is applicable in almost every aspect of life. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the music along the way!

To read a more in-depth exploration of this wonderful class, check out the upcoming edition of Honorable Mentions for Spring 2022!

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