Great Works Dance Project celebrates 20th anniversary

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of WMU dance students.

Foreground, choreographed by Lauren Edson in 2012 for WMU dance students

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The 2016-17 academic year marks the 20th anniversary of the Western Michigan University Department of Dance's Great Works Dance Project. Bringing renowned choreographers and guest artists to campus and exposing students and community members alike to innovative, professional choreography, the Great Works Dance Project is an artistic staple at WMU.

Beginning in September with the residency of Brian Enos, dance students will enjoy master classes, in addition to dynamic seminars surrounding the historical significance and cultural context of the choreography, from the acclaimed artists in residence. The Great Works Dance Project concludes with a four-day gala concert in February, wherein students will perform these world-class works for public audiences.

"Each year the annual Winter Gala Dance Concert has featured one to three Great Works on its program," says Megan Slayter, chair of the WMU Department of Dance. "This year's anniversary gala will consist entirely of Great Works."

Master classes

  • Lilac Garden by Antony Tudor and staged by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner of American Ballet Theatre was choreographed in 1936 for London's Ballet Rambert. WMU is the first university to perform this historic masterpiece, a dramatic ballet which explores a bittersweet romance.
  • The Gettin' by award-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham, artistic director of Abraham.In.Motion, will be staged by two WMU dance alumni who currently work with the company, Matt Baker and Jeremy Neal. Abraham's work probes the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles.
  • Charanga by Frank Chaves was originally performed by River North Dance Chicago and will be staged by Chaves and former company member, now WMU jazz professor, Monique Haley. This high-energy work is infused with Latin-based syncopation and flair.
  • Diphthong by Brian Enos, artistic director of Big Muddy Dance company, is an exciting exploration of rhythm, energy and virtuosic dance technique.
  • Fire Dance by Loie Fuller features a solo dancer engulfed in an immense silk costume ablaze in colored light. Originally created in 1896, it became an iconic inspiration to artists of the Art Nouveau movement.
  • Foreground by Lauren Edson was an original work created for WMU dance students in 2012 through the inaugural National Choreography Competition. The original cast of WMU alumni, all of whom are dancing professionally in New York or Chicago, will return to perform the work.

Winter Gala Dance Concert

The 20th anniversary Winter Gala is Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 2-5, in the Shaw Theatre at the Gilmore Theatre Complex. 

  • Thursday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 3, 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 4, 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 5, 2 p.m.

Great Works Dance Project

WMU's Great Works Dance Project enriches and enhances the programs of the University's Department of Dance and brings works of the highest aesthetic standards to southwest Michigan. Presenting choreography that features ballet, jazz and modern dance styles, this program highlights innovative artists of the past, as well as today's contemporary choreographers.


To purchase tickets, contact the Gilmore Theatre Complex Ticket Office at (269) 387-6222.

For more information, contact WMU's Department of Dance at (269) 387-5830.

For more news, arts and events, visit