UNCG Campus Weekly

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An arts legacy: Jan Van Dyke Performing Arts Space

hoto immediately after ceremony, as Van Dyke was greeted by friends and former students.Dr. Jan Van Dyke passed away July 3. Her profound impact on the arts in our city and state will endure.

The UNCG professor emeritus was honored June 15 in a ceremony dedicating the name of the Jan Van Dyke Performing Arts Space in the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center. She was on hand that morning.and heard many tributes.

She founded the Dance Project and co-founded the NC Dance Festival. She taught at UNCG for 23 years. She received many honors along the way. Recently, she provided funding for a new performance space ideal for dance performances, in the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center. A photo rendering of the performance space was displayed.

“The impact you have had on Greensboro cannot be overstated,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, thanking her on behalf of the City of Greensboro.

City Council mayor pro tem and former mayor Yvonne Johnson noted how hard Van Dyke had worked at UNCG and in the community. She added that former mayor Keith Holiday was on hand for this tribute as well.

Chris Wilson, assistant city manager and a UNCG alumnus, spoke about how much Van Dyke meant to the arts in Greensboro and the state. “Thank you for inspiring us.”

He noted that this new performance space is part of the transformation of Downtown Greensboro.

Florence Gatten, chair of ArtsGreensboro’s board, called her “the catalyst” – an apt description of her life’s work.

Janet Lilly, UNCG Dance chair, introduced Van Dyke, who received her doctorate at UNCG.

“I am delighted to say a few words about Jan Van Dyke’s many accomplishments at this wonderful occasion of unveiling plans for the Van Dyke Performance Space. The Greensboro dance community would not have the vitality and breadth of talent that it does today without Jan’s numerous contributions to the field of dance performance and choreography,” Lilly said. “The high quality of choreography that we have come to expect from North Carolina choreographers is a result in a large part to Van Dyke’s professional company, the Jan Van Dyke Dance Group established in 1989, her many years as a Professor of Dance at UNCG and her commitment to making Greensboro a place where dance thrives.”

Dr. Van Dyke stepped to the podium to address the many well-wishers, which included former UNCG students. She spoke of how she wanted a space downtown for dance performance – and that she felt “really lucky to have had the means” to help make it a reality.

“It’s not just due to me,” she said, of the new space. “It’s due to so many people here, who helped make this happen. Thank you all.”

She received a standing ovation.

Leadership of the Dance Project has been passed to two UNCG alumni and former Van Dyke students, Lauren Trollinger Joyner and Anne Morris. That legacy will continue.

And Greensboro’s downtown will have a place where dance can be enjoyed and celebrated.

Text and photo by Mike Harris
Photo immediately after ceremony, as Van Dyke was greeted by friends, colleagues, former students and many well-wishers.