Brenau Students to Perform Folk Dance on Wilkes Lawn

More than 100 students are expected to participate in a massive performance of the Virginia Reel on the historic Gainesville campus front lawn Thursday, Oct. 22.

While the Virginia Reel may have originated in the 17th century, College of Fine Arts & Humanities Associate Director Mary Beth Looney said the square dance took on a deeper meaning during the Civil Rights era. In the 1960s, The Highlander Folk School in Tennessee worked alongside civil rights workers to teach whites and blacks alike the English/Scottish country dance, encouraging a greater level of interaction across the color line in the process.

Dr. Ken Frank, the director of Brenau’s Conflict Resolution and Legal Studies program, said that makes the dance perfect for the first-year seminar, which incorporates “Reacting to the Past” role-playing sessions into a larger history lesson about the Civil Rights movement.

“At the time in which this game is set, it would have been against the law for different races to dance together,” he said, “and we are using the dance as part of that learning for our students.”

The performance is set to begin at 12:30 p.m.