Washington and Lee’s fledgling dance program and senior Zaq Lawal won major recognition last weekend during the American College Dance Concert at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond. Zaq’s dance, “Metamorphosis,” was among a dozen outstanding works that a panel of judges chose from the 45 that were submitted by the 27 participating colleges and universities for performance at the closing gala.
Zaq, an economics major, will be one of the first W&L students to graduate with a dance minor. He’s already signed on for a job with Heinz next year. According to Jenefer Davies, W&L assistant professor of dance and artistic director of the W&L Repertory Dance Company, Zaq was lauded for his performance and for “projecting and embodying his brilliant powerful movement” by three nationally recognized dance adjudicators — Denise Jefferson, a former Alvin Ailey dancer and director of The Ailey School; Janis Brenner, a Juilliard teacher and the leader of Janis Brenner & Dancers; and Susan Hadley, a professor of dance at Ohio State University and a former Mark Morris dancer.
What makes Zaq’s recognition and the performance of the W&L dancers all the more impressive is that the competition included such major universities as Southern Florida and Penn State, which have significant dance programs. “It was quite amazing,” said Davies. “We are such a young program, and we don’t even have a dance major, so that makes it even more sweet. Our dance program has only existed for only four years, and yet we have won this distinction for artistic excellence twice. It is affirming to be singled out by your colleagues on a national level.”
Davies also praised the support the program has received from Dean of the College Hank Dobin and her colleagues in the Theater Department.