The University Players and Dancers were organized to complement the Department of Theatre & Dance’s academic program, enrich student life on campus and expose the University community to live theatre and dance performances.
Students who belong to the University Players gain practical experience in a wide variety of theatrical and dance-related activities. This includes performing, designing sets and costumes and serving as crewmembers on department and student productions. Students with interests in arts marketing enjoy promoting performances and programs and all students benefit from participating in community service projects organized through the group.
University Dancers is the student ensemble company of the University of Richmond in the Department Theatre and Dance. Founded in 1985 by Myra Daleng, the company’s current artistic director is Anne Norman Van Gelder. Auditions are held in the early fall and dancers are trained in a variety of techniques such as ballet, modern, non-traditional partnering, jazz and the creative process in company classes (three per week) and rehearsals. A member of UD (Danc 306) does not have to be a dance major or minor to be in the company and all members receive academic credit for their work in the company, including credit towards their dance major or dance minor.
Students have had the opportunity to work with a variety of professional choreographers. Past choreographers are Robert Battle, Stefanie Batten Bland, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Alexandra Damiani, Jessica Lang, Francesca Harper, Sean Curran, Jean Paul Comelin, Erick Hawkins, Kanji Segawa, Doug Varone, Christian von Howard and UR dance faculty among others.
University Dancers perform one main stage concert in the spring and there are often additional performance opportunities throughout the academic year. Rehearsals take place during the week and on weekends and the time commitment is approximately 20 – 25 hours per week during the fall semester. Depending on how many choreographic works in which a dancer is cast, the time commitment increases in the spring. Members of University Dancers have the opportunity to choreograph for the spring concert. Student works are accepted for the spring concert following adjudication. Members of UD regularly participate at the American College Dance Association in the spring semester. All dance classes in the academic schedule are open to any student on a level-appropriate basis and students receive academic credit. Students also have the opportunity to audition and perform in the Department of Theatre & Dance’s musical every other year.
Additional Student Groups
APO is the Theatre Honorary Fraternity for the University of Richmond. To be eligible a student must be a second semester sophomore and must have made a significant contribution to the production program. Election to membership is held usually after each mainstage production; initiations occur at the end of each semester. Chapter report with photographic documentation is published each year in the APO magazine, Playbill. APO sponsors a number of campus theatrical events: Studio Productions, Talent Nights, Social Events, New Faces.
History of Alpha and Delta Psi Omega
The organization, development, and growth of Alpha and Delta Psi Omega is a result of the wide-spread interest of colleges and universities of America in dramatic arts in the early twentieth century. By 1920 most colleges had some kind of a dramatic club that was staging annual play productions for students and the local community. The little theatre movement and dramatic workshop idea made its appearance about that time and greatly stimulated the importance of the college drama and the worthwhile nature of the programs presented. This was especially true in western colleges, and by 1920 several national honor fraternities to recognize and reward student participation in play production had been organized.
Alpha Psi Omega, the first of these societies to be founded in the East, was organized at Fairmont State College in Fairmont, West Virginia, on August 12, 1925. The college theatre idea had begun to manifest itself in Fairmont about 1921, and, in 1923, a faculty director was employed; and an organization, the Masquers, was instituted to present an annual program of four or five major productions for students and the public. In 1924, the Masquers began to consider membership in some national honor society in dramatics as a means of rewarding its most faithful and loyal workers. Plans for forming such a national organization were seriously studied by a committee, composed of Elinor B. Watson, Robert Sloan, and Paul F. Opp, faculty director of dramatics at Fairmont. A proposed national constitution was drawn up, and, on August 12, 1925, those members of the Masquers who met the qualifications of the honor society approved the constitution and adopted the name, Alpha Psi Omega. It was decided that each chapter was to be called a "cast," and Fairmont became Alpha Cast. The interest of Marshall College in Huntington, West Virginia, assured the immediate national character of Alpha Psi Omega with the establishment of Beta Cast. A member of Beta Cast suggested the name Playbill, for the national magazine.
During the course of the next year, eighteen new chapters were admitted, and twenty chapters were on the roll at the time of the meeting of the first national convention, at the Palmer House in Chicago on December 27-28, 1926. National conventions, called Grand Rehearsals, are held every five years.
Alpha Psi Omega has sponsored the formation of honor societies in high schools and junior colleges, thus encouraging dramatic production at every step in a student's career, from the preparatory school to college graduation. Delta Psi Omega was organized among the junior colleges in 1929, and now has a membership of more than 350 chapters. The Alpha Psi Omega Grand Rehearsal meeting at St. Louis in 1936 voted to recognize Delta Psi Omega as an affiliated junior college division.
Alpha Psi Omega has enjoyed continuous national growth, and with over 550 chapters is the largest national honor society in America. Membership in Alpha Psi Omega is granted only to fully accredited institutions with a four-year curriculum in theatre and drama leading to a degree.
Asian Beat, a dance group sponsored by the Asian Student Union (ASU), seeks to promote Asian hiphop/pop music to local communities through live dance performances. The group also seeks to promote Asian-American artists and the work they produce in the United States. All Asian Beat members share a common interest in Asian mainstream music and music inspired by Asian culture.
Richmond graduate Markita Boney established the Ngoma African Dance Company in 1995 to encourage students to discover African dance and culture. Since then, the company has grown in numbers and skill level and many Richmond dancers enjoy participating in performances that incorporate not only dance but also acrobatics, chanting, singing and drumming. In Swahili, “Ngoma” translates to “drum and dance.” In recent years, Ngoma African Dance Company has expanded to incorporate modern, hip hop and other dances into its repertoire.
Sub Par Productions serves the University of Richmond by providing students with opportunities to experience all aspects of professional film production through the creation of sketch comedy videos. The group is advised by theatre professor Johann Stegmeir.