Dance Company hits the stage

W&L Repertory Dance Company showcases grace, poise in dance concert

Sutton Travis

What began 20 years ago when several students requested dance P.E. classes has since become an award-winning program with a minor, a new studio and a connection between students that lasts far beyond the four years at the university.

        Current members and alumni of the Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company came together April 1, 2 and 3 to perform in the annual winter concert and to celebrate ten years of academic dance at the university.

        “It’s hard to believe that dance has been an academic program for ten years; time has flown,” Jenefer Davies, Director of the Dance Program, said. “But at the same time, we’ve experienced so much growth and change that ten years seems brief.”

        The concert featured a range of dance styles such as modern, African culture, aerial and contemporary ballet.

Among Davies’ choreography for the show was M(other), a 30-minute piece that is the culmination of a semester-long sabbatical. The piece, which the company has been rehearsing parts of for two years, incorporates a combination of visual art, poetry and music.

“It delves into gender roles, the intersection of mothering and beauty and the marginalization of women,” Davies said. “It’s been a massive undertaking. The student dancers have exhibited a professionalism that far surpasses their age. They perform this piece with grace and maturity.”

Elliot Emadian, ‘17, began research for Bravados, his piece for the concert, in September as an independent study. He began setting the choreography on his eight performers in late October.

The piece, a commentary on the typical gender-role perceptions of strength, was recognized for its choreography at the Mid-Atlantic American College Dance Association Conference in March.

“I would like to hopefully move our community and the people that come see the piece to question their everyday perceptions of what it means to be strong,” Emadian said. “Sort of the stereotypical perception of strength is immediately connected to masculinity, and I would like to change people’s ideas on that.”

Emily Danzig, ‘16, also choreographed a piece entitled 4505 in reference to the house number of her childhood home, which combined aerial and modern dance to explore family interactions.

        “Since it’s an aerial piece, I do want the audience to be intrigued by the duality of gravity and weight because that’s something I sort of explored,” Danzig said. “But I also want them to get the thematic content of sort of the playfulness and easy relationships that a family can have.”

Alumni from ‘07 to ’15 performed seven of the pieces in the concert. They have been working on these pieces for the past year in various cities across the country, including New York City, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, D.C and Wilmington, North Carolina.

        Davies said that while having the alumni back made her feel as if no time had passed, she was also able to see how dance has grown at the university through their perspectives.

        “They jumped right in and spent hours in their hometowns and on campus in rehearsal, editing and refining their dances,” Davies said. “Many of them have not been back to visit in many years, and it’s wonderful to see their amazement at our gorgeous dance studio and their reactions to the beautiful student dancers, the facilities and the support.”