Mason’s School of Dance performs on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
March 9, 2017 / by Jamie Rogers
The School of Dance at George Mason University is perhaps less well known in the Washington, D.C., region than it is nationwide. Now that its dancers have performed at the Kennedy Center, that’s likely to change.
Thirty-two students from the School of Dance performed seven pieces on the Millennium Stage on Feb. 10 as part of the Kennedy Center’s showcase of local dance companies during the week of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performances.
“They asked for us. They wanted a very versatile troupe of high-caliber dancers. I said, ‘You called the right place,’” said Susan Shields, director of the School of Dance.
“Seventy-five percent of our students are from out-of-state; people from all over are learning about us, but it’s the people in our own backyard who don’t know the level of our program. This [performance] goes down in the Kennedy Center archives.”
Dance major Madeline Burr, a Houston, Tex., native, was the only freshman in the performances.
“It was definitely the biggest accomplishment I've ever been a part of. I’m so thankful Mason gave me that. It’s amazing that I got to do that so quickly,” Burr said.
"All the works presented had been performed before by the [Mason] Dance Company. Putting the pieces back together took a few weeks of rehearsal, but we were able to come together rather quickly,” said Robert Rubama, a junior dance major who danced a duet.
He said the piece wasn’t technically challenging, but the expressions of emotion were important.
“I think I had to emote more because there was a camera in my face,” Rubama said.
Being on the Millennium Stage offered a different experience than the school’s home stage in the Harris Theater, said Gena Scheerschmidt, a junior dance major.
“It was more of an interaction,” she said. “The lights were up; you could actually see the audience.”
Da’ Shown Rawl, a junior dance major, said that Alvin Ailey member Elisa Clark had worked with the Mason students in the weeks prior to their performance and was there to support them at the Millennium Stage.
“She was down to earth and so real, it was raw. It was more like she was bringing us into her world,” said Rawl.