Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance
William and Mary boasts one of the oldest and most reputable theatre programs in the United States. In 1702 a group of our students presented a Latin "pastoral colloquy" for the Royal Governor, the first record of a theatrical performance in America. The first theatre in America was constructed in Williamsburg in 1716, and in 1736 William and Mary students presented America's first recorded college production of a play - Addison's Cato. The discipline of dance was formally established at William and Mary in 1941 by Professor Grace Felker through the Modern Dance Club and its subset of advanced students known as Orchesis. Housed in the Women's Physical Education Department, students studied Modern technique and Dance Composition, and they prepared an annual concert of student choreography which was eventually titled An Evening of Dance. Over the years, a number of company directors have filled the shoes of Professor Felker including Helen Black, Thelma Dodson, Blanche Duffy, Sophia Saunders, Lorna Burdsall, Catherine Edmundson, Gladys Warren and Rona Sande, and each spring students have been able to present their original choreography in well-received public performances. In 1963 Professor Carol Sherman became director of the dance program followed by Shirley Roby in 1964. In 1965 Professors Sherman and Roby were both members of the faculty, and they co-directed the dance program for the next 35 years. Beginning in 1968, the course offerings in Dance were expanded. New courses included beginning through advanced levels of Modern technique, History of Modern Dance, Group Choreography and Independent Projects in Dance. DANCEVENT, a fall concert of faculty work, was initiated in 1977, and as the dance program continued to grow, a third full-time dance position was added in 1979 followed soon after by a fulltime accompanist. The Dance Minor was established in 1982. The focus of the minor is choreogaphy, and in 1998 it became necessary to produce the first Dance Minors Concert in addition to the Orchesis spring concert in order to allow all choreographers to present their work. Additional courses have been added to the curriculum including Intermediate Ballet and Jazz, History of American Vernacular Dance and the Alexander Technique. In 2000, Professors Roby and Sherman retired, and that fall, the Dance Program moved to the Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance where it continues to flourish.
Dept. of Theatre, Speech, and Dance in the SCRC database.
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