Mason Dance Gala celebrates legacy and resilience

Dance Gala
Members of the Mason Dance Company perform “Running To and Toward” by Hope Boykin for the pre-recorded digital stream of 2021 Mason Dance Gala Concert on March 27 at 8 p.m. on Mason Arts at Home. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services


Members of the George Mason University Dance Company are grateful to be performing in this year’s Dance Gala and Fete.


“I did not realize how important it is for me to be able to dance in person,” said Carlos Martinez, a junior in the School of Dance and one of eight student-dancers cast in the production of “Sunlit Song,” choreographed by Susan Shields. “Nowadays, having the opportunity to dance in a studio is a luxury that not all performers get to enjoy.”


Martinez and other students will showcase their artistry and resilience March 27 for this year’s virtual Gala concert to perform works by some of the country’s most prominent choreographers, including a world premiere by choreographer Hope Boykin.


“Our Mason dancers are some of the most talented young artists in the country,” said Karen Reedy, School of Dance director. “The pandemic has provided challenges to the way we work, but our dancers have continued to persevere. These dancers bring great technical skill, versatility, passion, humanity and artistry to these wonderful works.”


The evening celebrates the legacy within the school, as well as the resilience of the dance community over the past year, Reedy said.


Boykin, who recently completed her 20th and final year as a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created a new work for this year’s dance gala that’s grounded in the pandemic and reflects the current times we are living in. Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, Boykin used Mason’s Moving Story Window Wall. The innovative technology—conceived and spearheaded by Heritage Professor of Dance Christopher d’Amboise—facilitated interaction for Boykin’s virtual residency, allowing her to collaborate with 38 junior and senior dance majors.


Georgia Dahill, a junior dance major, knows the importance of engaging in the creative process with top professionals in the field. She collaborated with Boykin her world premiere piece titled “Running To and Toward.”


“Hope Boykin absolutely had a vision for what she wanted,” said Dahill. “It’s a privilege and testament to Mason connecting us to the real world even during global pandemic.”


Hope Spears, a senior dance major, said she has followed Boykin’s dance career her entire life. “She’s one of those people that just lights up a room,” Spears said. “The way she challenged us to elevate the piece to the next level made us all come out of this process better artists and masters of our craft.”


Shields re-staged her 2002 work, “Sunlit Song,” for the gala.


“When ‘Sunlit’ was created, I was in a dark place,” said Shields. “I was in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, riding a train out of the city and looked out the window to behold rays of sunlight illuminating fields of yellow grapeseed flowers—glistening in bright hope and energy. The piece is a celebration of hope, energy, brightness—something we all crave.”


“Now more than ever, I appreciate the ability to dance and connect to one another,” said senior Olivia McCall. “Susan motivated us and she brings a tireless energy to the studio.” The Baltimore native plans to return to her hometown and teach dance after she graduates in May.


The free public broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, preceded by the fête, a special presentation for supporters and sponsors of the School of Dance. Learn more here.