Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation (Birmingham, AL)

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A group of dacers appear suspended in the iar with legs tucked under their bodies.  They cast shadows on a the stage in a dramatic scene

Students in the Alabama School of Fine Art’s summer dance workshop perform with noted modern dancer Desmond Richardson of the Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company. Photo by Steve Johnson, As You Like It Photography

The Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) serves 350 full-time students with dormitory facilities on campus in downtown Birmingham. ASFA accepts students in grades 7-12 in a selective audition/interview process in six areas: creative writing, dance, music, theater arts, visual arts, and math-science. Students accepted by ASFA pay no tuition for the classes.

Of the 350 students, 50 enter the dance program. In recent years, as part of the curriculum, ASFA has brought in nationally and internationally known dancers for master classes. In FY 2004, the Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation received an NEA Learning in the Arts grant of $15,000 to support a modern dance residency by the New York-based dance company Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company for two weeks during June and July 2004.

Led by artistic director Dwight Rhoden and dancer Desmond Richardson, both formerly of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and including a diverse group of dancers, Complexions worked with students during ASFA’s first summer dance intensive from June 28 to July 10, culminating in two performances.

Students in the summer program ranged from 15 to 24 years old, ten from ASFA and 20 from elsewhere, all earning a place in the program through auditions. The summer workshop was set up to simulate the daily rigors of a professional dancer, taking dance and choreography classes in the morning with five hours or more of rehearsals in the afternoon. The students performed two shows of works by noted choreographers Arturo Fernandez, Donald Byrd, Thaddeus Davis, and Rhoden, followed after an intermission by performances by Complexions dancers.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)