Brenau students, faculty involved in Alabama Dance Festival, Days of Dance

Days of Dance Performance Jan. 29

Faculty and students in Brenau University’s Dance Department have been busy this spring semester, participating in the Alabama Dance Festival from Jan. 14-23 and hosting Days of Dance the following weekend.

For the annual ADF event in Birmingham, students submitted works to an adjudication panel, and sophomore Jalicia Costa and junior Brianna Gutierrez were selected to perform in two different showcases. Guest artist Du’Bois A’Keen also had his work, Truth Be Told, featured.

Students backstage at the Alabama Dance Festival
Students backstage at the Alabama Dance Festival

About 30 Brenau students participated in ADF, including sophomore Olivia Anderson. She said she enjoyed taking classes and learning new things to help her career move forward. The performances made an impact on her, especially getting to perform in Costa’s piece.

“Coming from a small town, the size and quality of the performance space blew me away,” Anderson said. “The variety of dances performed was also inspiring, as I was exposed to new choreographic styles. And having the opportunity to perform my friend’s choreography in front of such a diverse audience was a memory I will never forget.”

Madia Cooper-Ashirifi, Dance Department chair and assistant professor, taught four dance classes at the festival. She also served on the Alabama Dance Council Roundtable and was invited to guest teach at the University of Alabama and Troy University.

“We received several accolades from University faculty, ADF’s executive team and other dance majors about the beautiful and powerful performances by our dancers,” Cooper-Ashirifi said. “The dancers were grateful to have an opportunity to perform out of state.”

ADF, one of the largest dance festivals in the Southeast, offers classes, teacher training, showcases, audition opportunities and networking. Dancers ages 11 and older can register to audition for summer programs at national, regional and local dance organizations and collegiate programs, including Brenau. Cooper-Ashirifi said ADF offers a substantial amount of recruiting opportunities for the department. 

Students dancing in a class at Days of Dance.
Students dancing in a class at Days of Dance (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

At Days of Dance, held over two days on Brenau’s historic Gainesville campus, high school-aged students were able to experience what Brenau has to offer, while meeting with Brenau faculty and students. Participants also used the weekend as an opportunity to audition for scholarships and placement in Brenau’s program. About 70 students participated this year. 

The event culminated Saturday night with a showcase featuring attendees; Brenau faculty, students and alumni; the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre; the Gainesville Ballet Company; and the Stilwell School of Performing Arts.