The Columns

W&L Dance Program Moves into New Downtown Lexington Studio

— by on September 6th, 2012

To accommodate the expanding needs of the dance program at Washington and Lee University, a new dance studio has been created at 109 South Jefferson Avenue, the former print shop for the Lexington News-Gazette.

Since its inauguration six years ago, the dance program at W&L has grown to include a dance minor and expanded academic course offerings. It has won prestigious awards for “outstanding creative works” from the American College Dance Festival and has received national attention for its work in aerial dance.

Jenefer Davies, assistant professor of dance, described the new location as ideal for a dance studio. The building’s structure has enabled it to be rigged permanently for aerial dance, making silk ropes, harnesses and bungees available to the dancers at any time. A special sprung floor has been installed to make it safer for dancers to move on and jump repetitively without being hurt.

Previously, the W&L dance studio was on the third floor of DuPont Hall on campus, which is slated to be transformed into the Center for Global Learning. The new studio is more than twice the size of the old one, and Davies was able to purchase double-sided mirrors to split the room in half so that two dance classes can be held at the same time.

“One amazing attribute of this new studio is its size, because it’s larger than the Keller Theatre, our home performance space,” said Davies. “We plan to mark off the stage and wings in the studio for rehearsal to create an exact duplicate of the Keller stage. This means that when we move from the studio to the stage we won’t have to make adjustments in the choreography or staging. It’s a huge improvement.”

Noel Price, a senior major in Spanish and politics at W&L, said she was shocked at how large the new studio is. “It’s absolutely beautiful and it’s going to be wonderful to have all this space instead of having to move around different small dance studios,” she said. “I’ve been in love with the dance program since my first year at Washington and Lee. and I have loved watching it grow and change.”

Wendy Price, assistant dean of the college, was instrumental in the move to downtown Lexington. “The new dance studio makes it possible to meet the demand for more teaching and rehearsal space while also housing faculty offices,” she said. “We are thrilled with the result and excited about the future of W&L’s dance program in this new space.”