For more information about the Terpsichorean Dance Company, please contact:
Beverly Cordova Duane
120 Holland Hall
Terpsichorean Dance Company
Hampton University Dancers 1934 - 2013
For the past 79 years, Hampton University has recognized the value of arts and providing students with opportunities in dance which are culturally diverse and community based. Founded in 1934 by Charles H. Williams, the company has developed a rich history as one of the first African American touring companies in America to perform in New York. Charles H. Williams was an associate professor and supervisor of the Physical Education Department at Hampton Institute as well as the founder, organizer and first director of the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group. The Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group is better known today as the Terpsichorean Dance Company has been in existence since 1934.
With the rise of black performers on stage, the styles of dance were also impacted. The Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group’s style was mainly based on Negro spirituals and the traditional African dances from the foreign students. Under the direction of Charles H. Williams, the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group performed at many places around the country. With the help of Bernice M. Smothers, Charles Williams composed and taught the dances to the dancers. They made their first appearance on campus on April 2, 1934 in Ogden Hall, and their first off-campus appearance in the Mosque of Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1934. On November 21 of the same year, the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group debuted in New York City. They received favorable reviews from many popular periodicals such as TIME Magazine, and the New York Sun Times. The program they performed was similar to Ted Shawn’s with different portions such as African dances; characteristics dance rhythms, Negro spirituals and many others. There was also a section called “Labor Rhythms” which was choreographed by Ted Shawn himself.
The Terpsichorean Dance Company has performed at Hampton University and in the surrounding community to showcase the talents of Hampton students who have studied Tap, Ballet, African, Jazz, Modern, and many other dance forms. Each year the Terpsichorean Company holds two annual concerts in the fall and spring seasons as well as numerous outreach performances in the Hampton Roads community. The company serves Hampton University Students through a plethora of guest performances on campus for various student and administrative functions. In 2005, the company introduced T.O.P.S (Terps Organizing Projects of Service), a program that reaches out to various groups that are physically unable to attend performances in the Hampton area. For the past 73 years, Hampton University has paid homage to the cultural significance of the Black Dance experience and provides students with diverse culturally opportunities in the predominantly African American Dance Company.