Over two weeks in February, the community was treated to two outstanding displays of the performing arts at Chatham Hall.
The winter dance troupe went first, offering a wide-ranging exploration of the voices and influence of women throughout the history of dance entitled HERstory. The performance featured pieces covering the gamut of dance styles, with each focusing on a historical dancer or choreographer who brought that style into popularity. Reflecting on her inspiration in directing HERstory, Dance Instructor Donna Franklin said, “It’s a well-known and curious phenomenon in dance that the vast majority of professional dance choreographers are male, although the vast majority of dancers are female. In HerStory, we featured the work of various female choreographers who have managed to succeed in the field despite the odds. The girls learned many different styles of dance for this performance. They enthusiastically brought to life the spirit of each of the different styles on the stage- from Contemporary Ballet to Charleston to Modern Dance to Classic Jazz, and even more!” The show ran for two nights and showcased dancers from all levels of experience, as well as pieces from the Panache student dance troupe.
Following the outstanding dance performance, the cast and crew of the musical offered their winter’s work with an outstanding run of Next To Normal. The musical tells the story of a family struggling to deal with the loss of a member and tackles the difficult topic of mental illness and treatment, but not without moments of levity to offer insights for the audience. Under the direction of Mira Alpers ’19, the cast brought this challenging script to life through their adept performances, while the crew moved flawlessly to put on the show. Alpers credits the hard work of her peers for the show’s success, saying, “Directing Next to Normal was a challenging, wild, and incredibly rewarding experience. I am so thankful to all of my wonderfully talented actors and crew members, my assistant director Ayo [Eniola ’20], Ms. Cressida-Bliss who did all of the music and kept the wheels rolling, Chatham Hall for giving me the opportunity to direct a musical, and finally our fabulous school community who came, laughed, and cried with us night after night. The performing arts department at Chatham has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of theater to create unity and empathy for experiences outside ourselves, and I believe that Next to Normal’s powerful story about grief and family does exactly that. I am so proud to have been a part of sharing this story with my school community.” Both performances impressed and inspired all in attendance, and affirmed the deep passion for the arts present at Chatham Hall.
An all girls boarding and day school in Southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers Advanced Placement courses, global study and travel, as well as project based learning. Our athletic teams regularly compete at the State level and our exceptional riding program is nationally recognized. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.