A look at the end of the Lenfest fall season

Students showcase original work and campus prepares for Mock Convention


Kevin Remington

W&L Dancers Create illustrates student talent on campus. Photo courtesy of Jenefer Davies.

Laura Calhoun and Grace Mamon

As the season winds down, Lenfest hosts the annual Dancers Create show and prepares for a visit from D.C. group The Capitol Steps.

Dancers Create

Washington and Lee students performed original choreography on the Lenfest stage at the annual Dancers Create show on Nov. 14, 15 and 16. The award-winning Washington and Lee Repertory Dance Company displayed their talents at the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

The performance featured original work choreographed, designed and performed by students. Jenefer Davies, associate professor of dance and theater, provided artistic direction for the show.

Two guests artists visited campus during the semester, taught master classes and worked with students to choreograph dances for the show. Mauri Connors, multidisciplinary performance artist and choreographer, created a new piece inspired by the movement of tiny fish in ponds, named “Encounter for Routine Examination with a Finding of a Lack of Ambulation.” Gabby Tull, a teacher and professional choreographer, explores pain and anguish through her quartet, “Detached.”

Davies said she was thrilled by the opportunity to combine professional and student work.

“Bringing together professional guest artists, faculty, and current students creates a beautiful synergy,” Davies said. “A palpable force of teaching and learning is created where people unite in a shared experience. Together they take risks, learn, and grow as they collaborate in the artistic process.”

Students worked with Shawn Paul Evans, associate professor of theater and lighting director for W&L Dancers Create, to design the lighting for six of the dances in the show. Students have spent the semester in a course about lighting design and this show serves as a project to showcase their skills. Davies said she believes this provides an important, tangible experience to conclude their course.

“Through actual hands-on experience, the designers used what they are learning about the science and craft of lighting to help provide visual context to the dance,” Davies said.

There are a wide range of dance styles included in the show. Carissa Margraf, ‘21, and Runa King, ‘21, choreographed a collaborative, modern take on “The Four Seasons,” with kaleidoscopic stage patterns and expressive movement in “Summer and Fall,” which they will continue to work on next semester to encompass all four seasons.

Mary Pace Lewis, ’21, pays homage to Bob Fossie’s choreography style with her sleek, long, crisp lines and articulated movement in “Mercurial.”

Ashley Shugart, ’22, uses “Exhale” to show a fast paced, contemporary work with constant transitions, powerful movement and intricate group formations.

Irina Kovena, ’22, and David Galvez, ’22, explored salsa and tango styles to create “Soltera,” a duet rooted in tradition but updated with modern twists and hip-hop technique.

With a variety of works choreographed by students across campus, W&L Dancers Create showcases the diversity and talent found in the Department of Theater, Dance and Film studies, which made the show possible.

The Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps will visit campus for a performance on Nov. 20. Photo courtesy of the Lenfest Center for the Arts.

Next week, Lenfest is setting the stage to prepare campus for the upcoming Mock Convention.

Tickets to see political satire performance group The Capitol Steps at Lenfest on Nov. 20 sold out rapidly.

The Capitol Steps combines politics, comedy and music to comment on the current political climate. With their slogan “We Put the MOCK in Democracy,” they satirize both sides of the political spectrum and bipartisanship itself with skits, stand-up comedy and parodies of popular songs.

Since their formation in 1981, The Steps has appeared on The Today Show, CBS Evening News and National Public Radio. They have also performed for the last five presidents and have regular shows in Washington D.C. The name for the group came from a rumored scandal involving Congressman John Jenrette and his then-wife Rita, who allegedly had sex on the steps of the Capitol Building during a late-night break in a session of Congress.

Their performance on campus this week will include their 2019 album entitled “The Lyin’ Kings.” According to their website, the album allows listeners to “hear from Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Brett Kavanaugh, Elizabeth Warren and more, as they make comedy great again.” It includes tracks like “The Sound of Sanders,” “It’s Trump’s Party (and He’ll Lie if He Wants To)” and “Trollin’ on the Twitter” to the tune of “Proud Mary.”

Responses to the group from politicians have been largely positive, despite their parodical nature.

“The Capitol Steps make it easier to leave public life,” said former president George H.W. Bush.