Metro Weekly

GMU Dance Company offers its annual Dance Gala Concert virtually

Hope Boykin choreographs a world-premiere performance featuring George Mason dance students

GMU dance company, george mason, dance, mason dance gala concert
GMU Dance Company Gala Concert and Fête — Photo: Tim Coburn

During the fall semester last year, choreographer Hope Boykin collaborated with 38 junior and senior dance students at George Mason University as the first-ever virtual resident artist with its School of Dance. Boykin, the Artistic Lead for the Kennedy Center Dance Lab who recently retired after 20 years as a dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, developed the choreographic work Running To and Toward virtually, through the use of new video conferencing technology pioneered by School of Dance professor Christopher d’Amboise.

Called Moving Story Window Wall, the technology allowed Boykin and students to interact through the use of live, life-sized projections onto dance studio walls plus a live computer feed.

The work will be seen in a world-premiere performance featuring the students, pre-recorded on stage at the school’s Center for the Arts, as a highlight of this year’s virtual annual gala. With themes of legacy and resilience, and a special focus on the collaboration between choreographers and dancers in developing new dance pieces, the free public broadcast will also feature students performing a work considered a treasure of the School of Dance’s repertoire: Susan Shields’ Sunlit Song.

A longtime member of the Mason faculty, Shields was originally inspired to create the striking work, set to complex musical scores and full of hope and joy, upon seeing the way rays of sunlight illuminated fields of yellow grapeseed flowers during a train ride through the Polish countryside nearly two decades ago.

“Our virtual Mason Dance Gala Concert celebrates the talent, strength, and perseverance of our dancers, who have not missed a minute of opportunity to further their craft despite the challenges this year,” says Karen Reedy, Director of Mason’s School of Dance. “Hope Boykin’s Running To and Toward is a work steeped in our current time, moving through the pandemic, and Susan Shields’ Sunlit Song is a timeless work, full of energy, brightness, and hope.”

The virtual Gala Concert will stream on Saturday, March 27, at 8 p.m. A special “inside-the-studio presentation” will begin at 7 p.m. for alumni who contribute upwards of $20 or Supporters contributing at least $25. Net proceeds benefit School of Dance scholarship funds. Available for viewing until April 9 at 5 p.m. Visit

View the YouTube video here:

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