The Columns

Repertory Dance Company Celebrates 20 Years of Dance at W&L

— by on March 25th, 2016

The Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company will present a concert celebrating the first 10 years of W&L’s academic dance program and 20 years of dance at W&L on April 1-3 in the Keller Theater of the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Performances are April 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and April 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are required. For information on tickets, call the Lenfest Center Box Office at 540-458-8000.

The performance is under the artistic direction of Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance/theater. Works will be choreographed and performed by faculty, students and alumni.

W&L dance alumni have been rehearsing for the past year in preparation for this anniversary concert in cities around the country, such as Atlanta, Houston, New York City, Washington, New Orleans and Wilmington, North Carolina.

A broad range of dance styles will be performed at the concert including modern pop culture, contemporary ballet, modern dance, African culture and aerial/modern.

Twenty years ago, about 10 students formed a W&L dance club and student-led classes. Two years later they successfully requested dance classes, which were offered by the Physical Education Department and taught by a Lexington dance instructor.

In 2006, W&L officially created an academic program in dance, offering classes in history, composition, technique and performance. Five years later, the program became a dance minor.

Enrollment grew and the program now offers ballet, modern dance, theatre dance, world cultural dance and other classes. Its new studio houses permanent rigging for aerial silks, bungee, and rope and harness classes.

“In keeping with W&L’s deeply held values in the liberal arts, the university supported the dance program and allowed it to grow in new and exciting ways,” said Davies. “We became one of the first colleges in the country to offer aerial dance, which really set us apart in terms of excellence and innovation.”

In addition to concerts on the Lenfest stage, the W&L Repertory Dance Company has traveled to New York City every year to perform in various places. It has also presented work at the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ailey Citibank Theatre in Manhattan; Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington; and the International Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Emily Wallace, W&L class of 2009, who will be performing in the concert said, “I started at W&L worried that it was not the perfect school for me. I realized that I was going to meet long-lasting friends and receive an unparalleled education in the most gorgeous campus in America, but W&L did not offer a dance program. Little did I know that, in 2006, Jenefer Davies would change that, and my almost-perfect college experience would become perfect and complete.”