WV Dance company brings STEAM-themed dance to BAES


BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Dance Company (WVDC) visited Buckhannon Academy Elementary School on Friday morning.

Toneta Akers-Toler, founder and Managing Artistic Director for the company, noted this specific performance for the elementary school incorporated STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and the Arts and Mathematics). “We show them through the language of movement, the movement is also language of sound, and the costumes are visual art,” said Akers-Toler. She also choreographs dances.

“Following our performance today, we will be doing some workshops in the classrooms with the students,” Akers-Toler said. She noted that the body can be used to spell words and different movements are on counts so that helps with math. “The engineering of your body and mind all working together helps you retain information better.”

WVDC dancers spanned from both home and border states. Emily Dodrill and Jax McAtee are West Virginia natives, while Lauren McBarron and Maria Hildebrand are from Pennsylvania and Kristina Lewis is from Ohio. According to wvdanceco.com, “Hildebrand was guest artist at the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts and West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy with WVDC performing in both the concert and virtual film versions of the company’s latest work, “Souvenir: Diary 2020.” In summer of 2019, Lewis was blessed with her first professional position as a dancer with Theatre West Virginia. McAtee is beyond ecstatic to be back in their home among the hills, dancing as a member of WV Dance Company. Also in 2019, Dodrill worked as a soloist and dance ensemble member with Theatre West Virginia, performing in shows such as Annie, Hatfields and Mccoys, and Paradise Park: The Musical. In April of 2021, she was honored to receive the Outstanding Dance Production and Technology Award from the SRU dance faculty. This will be Lauren’s first season with the West Virginia Dance Company.”

The students were well-behaved and very engaged during the performance. During dance breaks and costume changes, Akers-Toler gave the children lessons in posture and discussed STEAM-based questions with the students, providing their input. Students were especially enthralled by the “Metamorphosis” dance that ended with revealing a Monarch butterfly, which is the West Virginia’s official butterfly, designated into effect on March 1, 1955.

For more information and for upcoming events, visit wvdanceco.com.

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