Va. dance festival offers exchange, workshops for 500 dancers

By Heather Brady
WTOP Entertainment Contributor

WASHINGTON — It’s a dance student’s dream come true — a weekend full of workshops and lectures, offered by some of the top names in today’s professional dance world.

To dance with, and learn from, the variety of instructors offered at the American College Dance Festival at George Mason University last weekend was a unique opportunity, one that certainly offered students the chance to perfect their skills and gain a competitive edge in their careers.

But the usual air of prestigious hypercompetition that plagues the dance world and those within it was noticeably absent.

As over 500 dancers descended on GMU’s Fairfax campus Saturday morning, an open exchange of workshops, feedback and knowledge created an air of refreshing collaboration.

Classes for the students ranged from ballet and modern dance to bollywood and capoeira, and the greater public was invited to see the Joffrey Ballet perform and hear well-known and influential dancers tell stories from their lives and work.

Susan Shields, director of the GMU School of Dance, says the conference’s theme, “Imagine

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