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8 dancers in a spotlight in various poses, most looking up toward the light.



Kim Brooks Mata, Producer and Artistic Director

November 16-18, 2023, at 8:00 p.m., Culbreth Theatre

The Dance Program of the Department of Drama at the University of Virginia presents its Fall Dance Concert on November 16, 17, and 18, at 8:00 p.m. in the Culbreth Theatre. The fall concert will showcase the work of student, faculty, and guest choreographers. Each piece tackles duality of a sort: endings and beginnings, masculine and feminine, past and present, solitude and community, and explores how these juxtapositions live within and around us, affect us, and contribute to the unifying yet unique nature of the human experience.

The Dance Program is pleased to present the work of two guest artists: Paige Werman and Shandoah Goldman. Werman describes her piece, Exi(s)t Trance, as “an intense journey through the chaos of one’s own internal ecosystem” drawing inspiration from the connection between death and (re)birth in the human experience and the cyclical nature of the world around us. This examination of internal-external linkage reflects Werman’s own journey – with undergraduate degrees in both Dance and Environmental Policy, she couples her creative, dance- and movement-centered professional endeavors with ongoing graduate studies at UVA in pursuit of a dual Master’s degree in Urban & Environmental Planning and Landscape Architecture.

Returning guest artist and choreographer Shandoah Goldman’s group piece, Safety Dance, also explores the human condition, contrasting solitary and group dynamics as “the cast journeys from solo vignettes to moving as an organism through space, exploring questions of isolation and support.” A Canadian/American artist, Goldman is the founder of Under Story, an immersive, site-specific practice that “invigorates the connection between performer and audience, responding to cultural currents with humor and poetic narrative.”

UVA student choreographer Alyssa Kelley, a fourth-year double-majoring in Biology & Environmental Thought and Practice with a Dance minor, is shifting paradigms with her new piece, which centers on “the broad experience of heartbreak, portrayed from end to beginning, in an attempt to make sense of a tragic loss.” This exploration begs the question: is a heartbreak in reverse a heart healed? To further the reverse-engineering model, Kelley asked friend and musician, Trystan Pendergraff, to compose an original piece to accompany part of her choreography using the choreography as inspiration. It was “an interesting process,” in Kelley’s words, “considering many dances begin with music and build choreography off of it!”

This fall the Dance Program is also excited to present the work of Demetia Hopkins, Lecturer in Dance at UVA. She describes her piece, Divine Harmony, as “an exploration of divine energy fraught with juxtaposition.” Highlighted as one of Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 To Watch,” Hopkins is also Co-Artistic Director at the Orange School of the Performing Arts, where she received her own early dance training under the direction of Ricardo Porter. Her impressive background in dance includes six years performing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before making her Broadway debut in Oklahoma! in 2019. Hopkins’s work continues the theme of examining interconnectivity, seeking “a balance of masculine and feminine energy, Afrocentric and Eurocentric movement, and the interconnection of song and dance.”

Emily Wright, also a Lecturer in Dance with the Department of Drama, is fusing past and present, live dance and film, in her piece, energy at the margins. Inspired by the origins and influence of dance in American universities as reflected in the book Moving Lessons: Margaret H’Doubler and the Beginning of Dance in American Education, by Janice L. Ross, Wright’s work “reimagines the creative discoveries of early twentieth century dance and – almost one hundred years later – asks how these innovations continue to resonate in the worlds of dance today.” Highlighting the continuing relevance of this history seems only natural for this dance artist and movement educator.

The fall concert promises to highlight technical, creative, and artistic approaches to movement and composition, in addition to reflecting each choreographer’s personal interests and stories – resulting in an evening of engaging, evocative, and eclectic performances.

Tickets for the Fall Dance Concert can be purchased online at, by calling 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office, located in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building, open Tuesday through Friday from noon until 5:00 p.m.  Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and UVA Faculty/Staff, and $5 for students. Full-time UVA students may receive one free ticket if reserved at least 24 hours in advance of their desired performance date. 

Free parking on performance nights is available in the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, located next to the Drama Building.


Image: We've Been Here Before, Spring 2023 Dance Concert

Choreography: Alyssa Kelley  |  Dancers: Jaden Ko, Maya Koehn-Wu, Elizabeth Moore, Keely Pattisall, Cat Sano, Emma Strebel, Maggie Young  |  Lighting: Steven Spera  |  Photography: Tom Daly