WV Dance Company’s mission is to enrich lives by creating professional dance and learning experiences throughout our region.
Driven by this mission, WV Dance Company (WVDC) produces touring programs annually that make the arts more accessible to residents of Appalachia and improve the quality of arts education in our schools. As West Virginia’s only professional touring dance company, WVDC is comprised of highly-trained professional dancers and has received recognition for both its artistic and educational achievements. Kay Goodwin, former Cabinet Secretary for Education and the Arts in WV, praises WVDC and its contribution to the state saying, “their high standards for excellence serve as a benchmark for all artistic endeavors.”
WV Dance Company was founded in 1977 under the name Appalachian Dance and Music Ensemble. ADME was commissioned by the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Council to interpret the work of state Poet Laureate, Dr. Louise McNeil Pease. Music and dance were composed to highlight the strong rhythms, and bold, lean images of her poetry. In 1986, the dance component of ADME joined with Theatre West Virginia and became Theatre West Virginia Dance Company. TWVDC toured throughout the region on the Mid-Atlantic Arts Consortium Roster performing in many different states as well as in Espirito Santo, Brazil by invitation of the Partners of the Americas Program. During this time, TWVDC was also selected by the West Virginia Department of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts to participate in the project, Arts in the Classroom. This project began the company’s long-term commitment to developing arts-based learning programs and educational touring. WVDC has completed 47 years of successful educational tours. Emphasizing curriculum connections and multicultural studies, each program is fully arts-integrated including STREAM content. WVDC has received several WV Governor’s Awards for Arts Education.
Since 1996 the company has operated under the name West Virginia Dance Company and presents an average of fifty performances annually. A highlight was WVDC’s participation in The Glass Menagerie, a collaborative project with Greenbrier Valley Theatre. The Glass Menagerie was created with funding provided by the WV Department of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts. Richard H. Ressmeyer, past Director of the Arts in WV, voted this production to be the “Best Arts Event in WV ” in 2002. The company toured the project, as well as new works Pseudochomai and Family of Miguel Capella, performing at the West Virginia Dance Festival, Snowshoe Institute, University of North Carolina Greensboro and WV Wesleyan College. A highlight for the company was on April 4, 2005, when Toneta Akers-Toler, Founder and Artistic Director, was honored with the WV Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence.
WVDC maintains a dual focus on both educating students through arts-based learning as well as presenting public and collegiate/university audiences with engaging and thought-provoking modern works, including works inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the Appalachian region and recognized American Masterpieces. WVDC’s diverse concert repertoire has included works by both nationally and regionally recognized choreographers such as Gerri Houlihan, Daniel Nagrin, Doug Varone, Victoria Uris, Susan Hadley, Maureen Mansfield Kaddar, Donald Laney, Toneta AkersToler, Carli Mareneck, danah bella, Heather Taylor-Martin, Dane Toney and Jax Ryan McAtee among others. WVDC is delighted to have Nash Dawson, Katie Jo Fulks, Donald Laney, Jax Ryan McAtee, Lauren McBarron, Dane Toney and Sarah Walker for the current touring season!