Best of the Best at American College Dance Festival

Posted: January 1, 2014 at 1:10 pm, Last Updated: January 9, 2014 at 7:21 am

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By Catherine Probst


The American College Dance Festival will be held at George Mason University in March. Photo by Tim Coburn

When many students are leaving campus for spring break, more than 560 dancers and dance faculty will be arriving at George Mason University for the American College Dance Festival Association’s (ACDFA) annual mid-Atlantic regional conference.

George Mason’s School of Dance, including all current dance majors, is hosting ACDFA March 6 – 11, 2014, on Mason’s Fairfax Campus. The festival welcomes dance students and faculty from 20 universities across the region, as well as world-renowned dancers and experts in the field.

“We are very excited to be hosting this year’s mid-Atlantic festival and opening our beautiful facilities to our talented guests,” says Susan Shields, director of the School of Dance. “At Mason, the arts are highly valued throughout the campus and the curriculum.”

Participants will be dancing from sunup to past sundown and will take classes in a variety of dance forms, including ballet, contemporary dance and almost every world dance form imaginable. Taught by Mason School of Dance faculty, visiting faculty members from other universities and special guests, classes will be held in the dance studios in the de Laski Performing Arts Building and all across the campus.

The festival begins with a performance on Saturday, March 8, by the Joffrey Ballet, one of the world’s most innovative dance companies. Participants in the ACDFA festival will have the opportunity to experience the Joffrey Ballet’s contemporary repertoire.

A highlight of the festival will be a panel discussion on Sunday, March 9, titled “Imagine…..A Life in Dance.” The panelists are

  • Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Charlotte d’Amboise, Broadway actress and dancer currently starring in “Pippin”
  • Deborah Jowitt, dance critic, author and choreographer
  • Elizabeth Streb, artistic director of STREB dance
  • Ashley Wheater, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet

As part of the festival, each university will bring two dances to be adjudicated by several distinguished dance artists: Zvi Gotheiner, teacher and choreographer; Sarah Skaggs, performer and choreographer; and Sylvia Waters, artistic director emerita of Ailey II. The adjudicators will select 10 dances to be performed in the Gala Concert, which concludes the festival. To represent Mason at the festival, Mason’s dance faculty selected choreographic works by senior dance majors Celine Berthaud and Candace Perry.

Two dances from the Gala Concert will be selected for presentation at the National College Dance Festival held in May at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

“Hosting this year’s festival confirms Mason as a cultural leader in the community,” says Shields. “While Mason is already considered a dance hub in Virginia, our goal is to be one of the top five schools of dance in the nation.”

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at

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