Dance Department to Perform at National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center

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Photo Credit: Radford University Department of Dance. From left to right (back row): Denise Urban, Sara Cooper, Nicole Diambra, Grace Smiley, danah bella, Arianne Thompson. Front row: Allison Richter, Lexie Dunks, and Fiona O'Brien.
Photo Credit: Radford University Department of Dance. From left to right (back row): Denise Urban, Sara Cooper, Nicole Diambra, Grace Smiley, danah bella, Arianne Thompson. Front row: Allison Richter, Lexie Dunks, and Fiona O’Brien.
"passing. pausa. gap." Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.
“passing. pausa. gap.” Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.
"passing. pausa. gap." Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.
“passing. pausa. gap.” Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.
"passing. pausa. gap." Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.
“passing. pausa. gap.” Photo credit: Tzintzun Barajas-Bella.

Radford University’s Department of Dance attended the 2016 American College Dance Association (ACDA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference on March 18- 21 at West Virginia University and earned the incredible opportunity to perform at the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Fifteen dance majors, two faculty choreographers, and one student choreographer excellently represented the Dance Department in both adjudicated performances and masterclasses. At ACDA, numerous universities from the region came together to perform, network, and learn as artists.

The piece “passing. pausa. gap.” was selected to perform at the National College Dance Festival and was choreographed by Dance Department Chair, danah bella. Before advancing to the Kennedy Center stage, “passing. pausa. gap.” was one of 60 other pieces adjudicated in the first performance at ACDA. The top 12 adjudicated pieces were then selected to perform in the final gala. From these pieces, danah bella’s “passing. pausa. gap.” was one of the three pieces chosen to represent the Mid-Atlantic region at the National College Dance Festival in June. The eight dancers in this piece include Sara Cooper, Nicole Diambra, Lexie Dunks, Fiona O’Brien, Allison Richter, Grace Smiley, Arianne Thompson, and Denise Urban.

When asked about their experience at ACDA and the upcoming Kennedy Center performance, the dancers were eager to share their stories. Nicole Diambra said, “I don’t think that I have ever performed for such high stakes as I did at ACDA. I also don’t think that I have ever performed solely for the other people on stage with me as I am able to do in passing. pausa. gap. It is truly a joy to be a part of this piece and to create our own sanctuary of eight dancers on stage each time.”

According to Fiona O’Brien, “Seeing Radford University on the sheet gave me chills… Although, little did I know that we were even at the highest point yet….. I have never felt so close with a group of dancers in my whole life. That night reminded me of the importance of dance in my life. I still cannot believe that I will get to perform at the Kennedy Center with some of my best friends and represent my school with great pride in June.”

Grace Smiley elaborated on her connection to the choreographer and her fellow cast members; “Before we went on to perform for the adjudication concert we all stood in a circle, breathing, reflecting, and crying. It wasn’t that we were sad or nervous, it was that we knew we were one, and we knew that our rehearsals had all been worth it… We weren’t dancing for them (the adjudicators or even the audience), we were dancing for each other, for danah bella, and for RU… That moment where the dance became personal and worthwhile. That moment that just happened to bring us to where we are today, preparing for the Kennedy center. And for that moment and for the blood, sweat, tears, and love from db I am forever grateful.”

Additionally, faculty member Crystal Lewis’s “Flirting with Light Again” was performed in a non-competitive concert. The piece “Xerox,” choreographed by JoBeth Hardin, was also performed for adjudication.

The National College Dance Festival is June 8-11, 2016 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and George Washington University in Washington D.C. On June 9, 10, and 11, the Gala Performances will be at the Kennedy Center.

To help raise funds for this amazing opportunity, the dancers have created a “GoFundMe” account. The link to donate is https://www.gofundme.com/kennedycenter.