Guest Artists

You'll Learn from the Masters

Mason Dance Majors gain real world experience during guest artist residencies, during which artists from all over the world come to Mason to set works on students which are performed during our annual gala concert in March

Our guest artist residencies are intense learning opportunities and a chance for students to make connections that are invaluable to their careers. After choreographers choose their casts, a challenging 10-day rehearsal period begins that parallels a professional work schedule. These long days result in a finished work that is performed in our 2,000-seat concert hall. Artists often return for the performances. We also enjoy watching our alums return to perform on the same stage where they began.

We believe dancers learn best through dancing—there's no better way to grow artistically than by working and learning within some of the most compelling pieces. The variety, the intensity, the vibrancy of being part of something excellent is what these residencies are about.

Everyone in my company loves visiting George Mason University. It’s a place where we can perform for an audience that loves dance and a place where we can teach students who love to dance. What could be better than that? It’s an inspiring environment. …I hold George Mason University’s dance program in high regard. The program is really doing something right. 

—Mark Morris

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2022-2023 Guest Artists

Over the 2022-2023 winter break our dancers were working hard at learning new repertoire. The Gala Concert on March 24 and 25, 2023, featured four full-length works by four renowned choreographers: Awakening by Robert Battle, Variation 10 by Rafael Bonachela, Black & White by Manuel Vignoulle, and Double Octet by Doug Varone and Dancers. See videos below of the first three artists in process with the dancers: 

  • Robert Battle’s Awakening, staged by Elisa Clark, dance artists, educator, and administrator.
  • Rafael Bonachela’s Variation 10, restaged for Mason by Fiona Jopp of Sydney Dance Company
  • Manuel Vignoulle's Black and White, staged by Rena Butler, artist, choreographer, and dancer to stage
  • Doug Varone and Dancers's Double Octet, staged by Ryan Yamauchi and Daeyana Moss, from the company of Doug Varone and Dancers.

Robert Battle

Rafael Bonachela

Manuel Vignoulle

Choreographer Doug Varone

Doug Varone and Dancers visited Mason in February 2023 for a one-week residency, including a performance at Mason’s Center for the Arts—joined by Mason students. The program featured Somewhere (2019), Short Story (2001), Aperture (1994), and Double Octet (2021). During the residency the dancers worked on perfecting Double Octet for the Dance Gala in March 2023.

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Doug Varone and Dancers with Mason Dancers in Spring 2023
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Doug Varone and Dancers Perform at Mason

Choreographer Robert Battle

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Choreographer Robert Battle working with Mason dancers
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Spring 2023 guest residency with choreographer Robert Battle

Choreographer Manuel Vignoulle

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Manuel Vignoulle residency in Spring 2023
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Working on Manuel Vignoulle's 'Black and White' for the 2023 Dance Gala.
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An impressive roster of guest artists visit the Mason School of Dance each year, engaging with our dancers through multi-day residencies and master classes.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, our majors have worked with:

  • Julie Nakagawa and DanceWorks Chicago
  • The Mark Morris Dance Group
  • Doug Varone and Dancers
  • Rena Butler
  • Justin Peck
  • Tiler Peck
  • Clifford Williams
  • Dwight Rhoden,
  • Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, and more.  
The students were extremely professional and well rehearsed, which speaks well for George Mason University’s dance program. The twelve student dancers stood out, but ironically for the fact that they blended so seamlessly into Varone’s work.

—Review of 2017 performance by Doug Varone and Mason dancers

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Rita Donahue, Mason alum and dancer with Mark Morris Dance Group for 15 years, returned to give a masterclass to Mason students.
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Alum Kim Davis, a dancer with DanceWorks Chicago, returned to work with Mason dancers during a 2019 Masterclass.
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In 2019, Victor Quijada (center), artistic director of RUBBERBAND Dance Group taught a Masterclass to the Dance majors.
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Dancers worked with Fiona Jopp from Australia's Sydney Dance Company on Rafael Bonachela’s "Variation 10," featured in the 2020 Dance Gala.

Guest Artists Experiences

Jean Emile

The guest artist experience with visiting faculty and Alvin Ailey alum, Jean Emile

Student Discussion

Mason Dancers Discuss a Guest Artist Residency

A Tribute

A Tribute to Susan Shields's, 'Sunlit Song.'

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In the News
Doug Varone working with students at Mason
Doug Varone and Dancers

17 dancers were selected by esteemed Doug Varone and Dancers, one of Mason’s 2023 artists-in-residence, to participate in upcoming performances. Eight of the students will perform alongside the company in February, and all 17 will perform at the Center for the Arts at the annual Mason Dance Company Gala in the spring. The students will be performing a version of the piece, Double Octet.

Mason dancers pictured in 2018 with Lar Lubovitch when they were invited to perform his Brahms Symphony at the close of the Lubovitch company's 50th anniversary season. 


Lubovitch said about the Mason dancers, "They danced it very accurately, very beautifully and with great maturity, which is the thing one would least expect from people their age..."

Billy Smith was one of two students "plucked" by Mark Morris from Mason's School of Dance upon graduation. The second was Durell R. Comedy.