Dance Gala Concert

Mason Dance Company Gala Concert

Dance Gala 2024 image of a male and female dancer entwined wearing black and pale blue

Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, Fairfax Campus

Held every March, the Gala Concert is Mason Dance Company’s crowning season event featuring a program of works by contemporary professional choreographers. The 2024 program featured Kyle Abraham’s Drive, staged by Jae Neal; Rena Butler’s This, That and the Third, staged by Rena Butler and Madison Pineda; Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street, staged by Elizabeth Auclair; Susan Shields’ Visions and Miracles, staged by Susan Shields and assistants Lauren Ciccolini and Nateisha Reaves. See highlights from the Concert below.

Prior to the Saturday Dance Gala Concert, the Mason Dance Fête featured an exclusive event for sponsors and donors. Proceeds from the event support School of Dance student scholarships.

Read the Choreographers' Bios:

Kyle Abraham

2018 Princess Grace Statue Award Recipient, 2017–18 Joyce Creative Residency Artist, 2016 Doris Duke Award Recipient, and 2015 City Center Choreographer in Residence, Kyle Abraham (he/him) is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow who began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He continued his dance studies in New York, receiving a BFA from SUNY Purchase, an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Washington Jefferson College. He has served as a visiting professor in residence at UCLA’s World Arts Cultures in Dance program from 2016 to 2021. In 2021, he was named the Claude and Alfred Mann Endowed Professorship in Dance at The University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Abraham currently sits on the advisory board for Dance Magazine and the artist advisory board for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2020, he was selected to be Dance Magazine’s first-ever guest editor.

Rena Butler

Rena Butler hails from Chicago, Illinois. She began her studies at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, studied overseas at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. Rena danced with companies including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, the Kevin Wynn Collection, Pasos Con Sabor Salsa Dance Company, and Gibney Company. She is a recipient of the prestigious 2019 Princess Grace Foundation Award for Choreography and created works for National Ballet of Canada, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, San Francisco Opera’s Orpheus and Euridice, Norrdans in Sweden, Charlotte Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, a film portrait for Third Coast Percussion x Devonté Hynes/Blood Orange, Oregon Ballet Theater, The Juilliard School, Oklahoma City Ballet, TEDxChicago Virtual Salon 3.0: Design Your Life, and more. She has been spotlighted in Dance Magazine’s “On The Rise”feature in 2013, and in the featured cover story for Dance Magazine’s November 2021 issue. Butler served on the Consortium for Chicago Dancemakers Forum and currently serves on Dancewave’s Artistic Advisory Council in New York City. 

Martha Graham

Martha Graham (1894–1991) is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century. She was named “Dancer of the Century” by Time and has been compared with other creative giants such as Picasso, Einstein, Stravinsky, and Freud. She created 181 ballets and a technique that revolutionized dance throughout the greater part of the past century. Using the founding principles of contraction and release, she built a vocabulary of movement to “increase the emotional activity of the dancer’s body,” exploring the depth and diversity of human emotion. Her ballets were inspired by a wide range of sources, from the American frontier to Greek mythology. She created and portrayed prominent women, including Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Medea, Phaedra, Joan of Arc, and Emily Dickinson. During her 70 years of creating dance, she collaborated with other great artists—Noguchi, Copland, Barber and Schuman, and her mentor Louis Horst among others, and is recognized for her groundbreaking work in all aspects of the theater—use of time, space, lighting, costumes, sets, and music. Her company was a training ground for many generations of choreographers, including Cunningham, Taylor, and Tharp. At the Neighborhood Playhouse, she is said to have changed the course of American acting through students such as Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, and Orson Wells. Her creative genius earned numerous honors and awards, including the Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of the Arts. Martha Graham’s extraordinary legacy lives on in the work of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Ensemble and School, and in the students worldwide studying her technique and performing her masterworks.

Susan Shields

Recipient of the 2006 Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography, Susan Shields has created dances for numerous professional companies and universities. Her work appears in the repertoires of Ballet West, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Nashville Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, The Juilliard Ensemble, Boston Ballet II, and City Dance Ensemble. She has created work for George Mason University, Harvard University, the University of Richmond, and Shenandoah University. In 2005, Shields was given a commission from the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts to create a ballet for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which premiered at the Filene Center that summer. She performed nationally and internationally as a member of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. In addition to performing the works of numerous contemporary choreographers, she was partnered by Mr. Baryshnikov in Mark Morris’ acclaimed dance, The Argument. She was a member of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company for eight years, performing a substantial part of his repertory.

Enjoy a Video of the Dance Gala Concert 2024