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Theater and Dance

cbrandcbrand 229 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited November 2013 in Washington & Lee University
Could anyone talk a little about these departments at W&L? Have you taken a class? Been in a show? If not, have you seen a show? What did you think of the quality of the production?

My son wants to double major in Theater and History with the goal of someday writing for stage, tv or film. We are encouraging him to look at BA programs at LACs and wait until graduate school if he wants to do some sort of MFA. That said, he still wants a school with a vibrant arts community.

Do you think W&L would fit the bill?
edited November 2013
8 replies
Post edited by cbrand on
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Replies to: Theater and Dance

  • yauponyaupon 570 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    Have seen a musical and a play. Was impressed overall, especially given that many roles were played by non-majors. The big shows are typically a fall musical (fall '13 will be an opera) and a winter play, with a few student-directed productions and staged readings throughout the year. Audiences seemed to be made up of equal parts students and community members.

    A W&L professor wrote a play which was accepted at a theatre festival in NYC and performed there with a W&L student cast last fall. Several W&L students were nominated this year for Irene Ryan acting awards (part of a Kennedy Center program that sends adjudicators to college & university productions). There are some good alumni contacts (Tony award-winning choreographer & director Rob Ashford comes to mind) in NYC.

    Not far from Lexington, one can find good regional theatre in Abingdon and Staunton, but Lexington's Lime Kiln community theatre fell victim to a lack of funding last year.

    History is a particularly strong department at W&L. IMHO, W&L would be a good choice for a History major who enjoys extracurricular dabbling in theatre.
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  • UnivProUnivPro 43 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    W&L has very nice arts facilities. I don't know that I would say it has a vibrant arts community. It's no Oberlin in that regard. The theater department is fine, but with few in it as majors. Its graduates often work behind the scenes rather than as performers. Dance is not a strong suit, at least what I have seen. Music is better on the choral side than instrumental. Neither would rival Oberlin or St. Olaf though. The school is dominated by a pre-professional bent with strong business and science programs. The balance of the program is typical LAC in the humanities.
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  • cbrandcbrand 229 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks. We are all about finding balance in a school. There are LACs with better known theater/dance programs, but I worry about what I call "singularity of voice" when it comes to the student body. My theory is that if you want to write or do theater, you should get a good education first and narrow your focus later. It also doesn't hurt to surround yourself with a variety of different people who have different interests.
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  • chemusicchemusic 661 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    Vassar and Brandeis in the northeast have strong theater programs. Vassar is bit more of an LAC than Brandeis and since Vassar has very few distribution requirements, it is easier to double major there. Take a look at the catalogs for your schools to see if a double major is possible. Vassar will allow you maximum flexibility to explore your interests and will provide an intellectual atmosphere with a vibrant and supportive arts scene. The play we attended was sold out for all performances.
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  • cbrandcbrand 229 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member

    Thanks. For some reason, my son seems most drawn to Southern and Midwestern schools. I'm not sure what the mystique of the south is and I'm not sure that a theater kid from Boulder, CO is ready for the culture change. We'll see. So far in the south, he has seen Vanderbilt, Tulane and Wash U (is that a Southern school or a Midwestern school?).

    Besides being in the South and being a top-notch LAC, the draw of W&L is the honor code. My son would like to be in school with students who take this philosophy seriously. He is looking at Davidson for the same reasons.
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  • McGinNCMcGinNC 23 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    1) Wash U - great school, but definitely not southern

    2) W&L - good fit for a theater/history/honor system seeking young man. The school is full of polymaths.

    3) The performing arts at W&L are primarily populated by hobbyists who are majoring in some other discipline. Some are very talented, but few want to pursue the arts post-graduate. In spite of that, W&L has invested very heavily in facilities and faculty for the arts.

    4) Davidson and W&L are very similar on paper - but very, very different experiences. Some kids love W&L while others love Davidson. Rarely does a kid love both.
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  • cbrandcbrand 229 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    4) Davidson and W&L are very similar on paper - but very, very different experiences. Some kids love W&L while others love Davidson. Rarely does a kid love both.

    Do tell....
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  • EsquetteEsquette 359 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    Below is the latest innovation in the Dance department - Progeny is a collaboration company of current W&L students and alums, performing by invitation and at competitions. W&L Dance has grown into a creative force on and off campus.

    Our S, who went to W&L as a varsity athlete, graduated with 3 years in the Dance Company after the Director recruited him and his friends from a campus competition where they performed hip hop.

    Aerial dance has also become a program highlight on and off campus. Master classes bring a wide variety of talent to campus. And Dance Company shows are often sold out.

    Some W&L dancers have an "I never imagined I would be doing that" experience, while others are doing what they dreamed about in high school. There is room for both.

    New W&L-Based Dance Company Debuts in New York :: News :: Washington and Lee University
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