LU alumna equips dance community through Lynchburg Dance Connection
Dancers from all across Lynchburg kicked, leaped and twirled in Lynchburg Dance Connection’s World Tour Showcase Sunday, Feb. 24. Alisha Clark, director of the event, made it her mission to bring dancers together throughout Central Virginia to dance as a community and to support each other’s gifts and talents.
Clark grew up in upstate New York where her passion for dance began. According to Clark, dancing in New York came with rivalries and a competitive spirit. It was in New York where she realized how badly those apart of the dance world needed support and encouragement from one another.
“I have always been heavily involved with extracurricular activities that included people of different backgrounds, ages and levels,” Clark said. “I think at some point that transferred into me wanting to create or be a part of something even bigger that took separate groups in the community, and combined them together as one.”
Clark graduated from Liberty University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in sports management. During her time at Liberty, she made connections with the student-run dance groups on campus as well as members of dance studios located in Central Virginia. She believed that Lynchburg needed college students to dance, train and build relationships with those who have similar passions.
Clark founded Lynchburg Dance Connection in 2017. Through her business, she has provided a database where dancers can find auditions, open classes, masterclasses, workshops, and other opportunities in the area. Clark has connections in major cities of Virginia and also makes connections in Los Angles, California. Clark also connects dancers who want to join college dance teams, but have no idea where to start. According to Clark, networking is crucial in the performing arts field.
“I make an effort to know the leaders of each team, studio, and crew so when a dancer asks which one fits them best, I can better direct them,” Clark said. “I fully support all teachers and dancers in my area of expertise, which is why I put together this showcase.”
Lynchburg Dance Connection’s World Tour Showcase featured over 230 dancers from all over Central Virginia. This was the first year for Central Virginia’s combined dance showcase that was performed at the Academy Historic Theatre in downtown Lynchburg. “This event aimed to unify the dance community by bringing them together for one night to showcase, support, and celebrate dance,” Clark said. “The diversity in this community is what makes each group unique. We are excited to bring everyone together for a night to celebrate each other and the one thing we all have in common, dance.”
All Liberty University dance teams participated in this event. This includes the Liberty Flamettes, Divine Call, D-Trex, Rhythm Tap and the Peacemakers. Brianna Baker, a Divine Call dancer, won a scholarship award through Lynchburg Dance Connection and came away with a positive outlook through this experience.
“Being able to dance alongside other talented dancers and the community full of all ages and backgrounds was an incredible experience,” Baker said. “There tends to be a lot of unnecessary tension, comparison, and rivalry in the dance world, but Alisha Clark has done so much to try to make dancing about community rather than competition.”
Lynchburg Dance Connection’s World Tour theme is more meaningful to artists who have been on “world tours.” According to Clark, she designed the World Tour theme with the color royal blue in mind.
“After doing the google thing we all do, I found many definitions and words that blue can represent like loyalty, professionalism, and calmness,” Clark said. “The blue that represents the water, can be seen as a division or a way to unite others. … For me, royal blue represents all the foundations of
unity in one.”
Kayleigh Light, a Liberty Flamette dancer, expressed her joy after dancing in the showcase along the side of Clark. She has grown up dancing under Clark’s direction and has an appreciation for what she does for the community.
“She has made such an impact in my life and so many others,” Light said. “ … Not just through dance, but as a loving, supportive, selfless, and encouraging person. … She has done so much for the dance community of Lynchburg.”
Clark said she is excited to see what doors open after the World Tour showcase, and cannot wait to see what dancers rise up from the community.