Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Kevin Barksdale

Second Advisor

Greta Rensenbrink

Third Advisor

Kat Williams


This thesis examines the West Virginia Ballet Festival (WVBF), which began in 1968 and became the West Virginia Dance Festival (WVDF) in 1981. This work studies the four groups that made up the festival community, including the West Virginia performance dance teachers who founded the festival, the West Virginia performance dance students who attend the events, the out-of-state professional guest artists who taught and performed at the festivals, and the nonartistic professional administrators who organized the WVDF. The WVBF/WVDF was part of West Virginia regional culture and the national performance dance boom. I argue that performance dance must be incorporated within historiographic understandings of West Virginia culture and identity. This study of performance dance in West Virginia shows that West Virginia was part of the national performance dance boom and contributed to the national cultural shifts in midcentury United States. Additionally, this work asserts that regional performance dance must be included within the historiography of performance dance, as this inclusion changes understandings of gender roles in performance dance.


Dance - West Virginia - History.

West Virginia - Social life and customs.

West Virginia Dance Festival.