How does NC #dancelocal? Triad edition!

March 24, 2014 § 1 Comment

The Triad. Three unique cities, each with something special to offer. Here’s what makes the Triad eclectic, inclusive, community-minded, high-quality and friendly.


Eclectic adjective \e-ˈklek-tik, i-\ 1: composed of elements drawn from various sources

This seems like the perfect word to describe this dance community, one that draws on the cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point. The Triad scene has something to offer everyone! From experiencing various forms of art, to a variety of dance venues and people, the Triad is eclectic for sure. Cara Hagan, a fan of all kinds of art, frequently finds herself amazed at the amount of activity there is in the Triad. “I often block out entire weekends, not only to see all the dance concerts at all the colleges, but to see plays, music, film and more,” says Cara. The Elsewhere Museum  in Greensboro is just one example of the unique art going on here. Elsewhere is a living museum that creates new art from old belongings in a three story former thrift store.

Dance offerings in the Triad are similarly varied, ranging from classical and contemporary ballet by the Winston Salem Festival Ballet to West African dance classes and performances by Suah African Dance Theatre. The modern/contemporary dance scene is strong and yes, eclectic, spanning Cyrus Art Productions’ theatrical contemporary dance to experimental dance and music collaborations in local bookstores.

Click to watch the Van Dyke Dance Group's impromptu performance

Click to watch the Van Dyke Dance Group’s impromptu performance


Michele Trumble is a dancer for the Van Dyke Dance Group in Greensboro who finds it exciting when the company performs in a variety of settings (traditional concert, gallery on First Friday  and random guerilla style performances). “It allows us different experiences and to reach different audiences,” she says. Princess Johnson of Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet agrees that dancing in odd places seems to be an emerging trend in the Triad. Sounds like fun! Aside from the collaborative work happening  in the arts, Van Dyke dancer Kelly Swindell feels that the food and locally grown movement is improving and growing. Just another thing to add to the Triad’s eclectic flair!

Inclusive adjective \in-ˈklü-siv, -ziv\ 1: covering or including everything 2 : open to everyone : not limited to certain people

Almost every artist from the Triad mentioned that the collaborative and supportive feel of the dance community was high on their list of favorite things about dancing in the Triad. Kelly Swindell in particular loves that there is respect for the dancer, no matter the age or ability. Other artists love the support they receive. “There are many supportive dance organizations that provide great opportunities to dance artists.” says Jen Guy Metcalf of Terranova Dance Theatre in Greensboro. The NC Dance Alliance is one such organization, providing support across the state. The Greensboro Fringe Festival also offers local choreographers a chance to present new work in the area.

Stephany Rayburn, a graduate student at UNCG, loves the connections she has made within the Triad. “I know most if not all of the alumni from our MFA program who live in NC, which is an invaluable networking tool. So many of them are teaching in local universities or working as independent artists, creating their own works. For me, this alleviates a lot of the anxiety surrounding “breaking into” a dance scene. It seems like if you know one person who dances in NC, you actually know 10,” Stephany says.

Community-Minded adjective interested in helping the wider community; socially concerned

The Triad feels like home to many of our artists. Some described it as “local,” meaning  a sense of belonging to a certain area.Why is that? Our artists feel that the size, people, and values held by the communities in the Triad make it a great place to dance local.

Downtown Greensboro. Source:

Downtown Greensboro. Source:

Cara Hagan, who considers herself an artist of the Triad as a whole, enjoys the size of the community. “My favorite thing about dancing here is that it is a small enough community to know everyone, and be able to know their work, but not so small that one gets bored,” she says. In Greensboro, Michele likes that it has a small city feel but she can still escape into nature on hiking trails or go canoeing at the lakes.

The Triad is community-minded not only because of its size but also because of its attitude. The UNCG Dance Department’s Dancers Connect  is an organization that teaches free dance classes to children every Saturday giving opportunity to students who may not otherwise get to experience dance. The Winston Salem Arts Council and Arts Greensboro are prime arts supporters, providing grants to arts groups and sponsoring annual events such as the 17 Days Arts Festival. Another organization making a difference is the Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conference. SEA’s mission is to provide practical resources to help aspiring artists gain the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain a career as an independent artist.

High-Quality adjective 1:  a degree or grade of excellence or wort

 The Triad is home to some high-quality organizations that our artists love to support . Many artists feel lucky to live in such close proximity to Triad Stage, a regional professional theater with locations in Greensboro and Winston Salem. “The caliber of their productions is so high. Preston Lane, Artistic Director of Triad, never disappoints with his many adaptations of famous stories and plays as well as some of his own. If you haven’t been to Triad Stage to see one of their many productions, you should go!” says Stephany. Movies by Movers  is a festival that explores the art of live human motion through the magic of film and digital media, a growing area of interest for many NC and Triad artists.

The Triad also provides the opportunity for artists to train and become the highest quality dancers. “I personally take a lot of classes at Dance Project due to their variety of adult classes offered and the supportive yet challenging teachers. Classes are a perfect combination of hard work and fun” says Michele. The Greensboro Ballet and Artistic Motion are two other great places to take class. Stephany calls Artistic Motion a wonderful downtown studio; they offer a variety of classes in the performing arts, in addition to their particular specialty: Vaganova training in ballet.

While NC as a whole has many great colleges and universities with strong dance programs, a number of them are located in or near the Triad, including UNC-Greensboro, UNC School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, Salem College, NC A&T University, High Point University, and nearby Elon University. Graduates of these programs often stick around, teaching, dancing, and creating companies of their own, and enriching the local scene.

The Triad is the home to the Hanesbrands Theatre, a 300 seat Winston-Salem venue in which dancers love to perform and watch dance. As the dance scene in the Triad continues to grow, artists are longing for more spaces like this to perform and showcase their work. Princess Johnson is in hopes of a dance facility equipped with state of the art studios and a theatre to meet her ballet company’s needs. Some area venues that do exist are UNCG’s blackbox Dance Theatre, Greensboro Day School’s Sloan theater, and the Studio Theatre in the Cultural Arts Center. Jen Guy Metcalf likes to watch dance at the Carolina Theatre and Aycock Auditorium, which are mostly utilized by bigger dance companies due to their size and rental fees. Artists also mentioned they enjoy the War Memorial Auditorium, a performance space inside the Greensboro Coliseum complex.

Friendly  1. kind and pleasant 

Aside from the many opportunities to dance in the Triad, the friendly people available to dance with are what make many artists excited to dance here. After all, it is the people who truly make up the feel of the dance scene. Greensboro makes it easy for college-aged students like Stephany who says, “Most of the studios in town cultivate a very friendly atmosphere. Dance classes are generally affordable for college students and young professionals which is important for me as I continue to cultivate my professional training.” The people of the Triad are generally accepting and excited about the arts. Kelly loves the family vibe she feels with her fellow dancers as well as the community’s engagement and appreciation for the arts. “The local dance community I work with is my other little family: it is familiar and fun. It is best when there is an engaged and curious audience being a part of the performance,” Kelly says. Kristen Lucas from Winston-Salem says dancing locally means dancing with friends. “Rehearsals are filled with laughter, true collaborative spirit, and mutual desire for the process. Connecting or reconnecting with folks through dance is a nice thing about this town.”

Terranova Dance Theatre in downtown Greensboro. Photo by Jen Guy Metcalf

Terranova Dance Theatre in downtown Greensboro. Photo by Jen Guy Metcalf

We’re loving reconnecting with the major NC dance communities through this #dancelocal series! What other Triad area companies, organizations, or activities do you love? Give them a shout-out in the comments or on our Facebook page!


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§ One Response to How does NC #dancelocal? Triad edition!

  • Jan Van Dyke says:

    Interesting to read about the different communities across the state and how they are alike, how they differ. I’m not sure why no one interviewed for the Triad mentioned how much we struggle to be visible in Greensboro without an appropriate space available to local artists for presenting work formally. One reason my company shows work in alternative spaces is that here, alternative is the fall back position. It may push us to be creative, but at the same time, it limits our audience and therefore, our growth as a community.

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