The Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Cora Dance-Alleghany at The Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge on Tues., Jan. 17.
Teresa Hammond, executive director of the Chamber, led the ceremony attended by Tom Sibold, City of Covington’s mayor; Jeff Irvine, mayor of the Town of Clifton Forge; Dr. Ronald Goings, member of the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors who represents the East District of Clifton Forge; and Greg Madsen, a board member of the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation.
Sibold led off by welcoming Cora Dance, the New York City-based dance company, to the Alleghany Highlands.
He was followed by Irvine who jested that Sibold had stolen his speech. Looking at Hammond, Irvine quipped that he wanted to be scheduled to speak first at the next ribbon cutting.
Dr. Goings welcomed the dance troupe to the theatre as did Madsen who followed him.
Shannon Hummel, founder and artistic director, was on hand along with Ammara Shafqat, program manager for Cora Dance-Alleghany.
Hummel founded Cora Dance in New York City in 1998, and for the past quarter of a century, she has expanded its dance programs by performing in Va. and W.Va.
She saw her vision of expansion unfold on the sidewalk in front of The Historic Masonic Theatre at 510 Main Street on a partly cloudy day where the ribbon cutting took place.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony was completed, Hummel invited the large gathering to enter the building and partake of light refreshments on the top floor of the theatre where a dance demonstration was held along with a video presentation of Cora Dance’s activities.
The reception on the top floor is where the Stonewall Dance Academy operated during the 1990s and early 2000s during the 12 years that Appalfolks of America Association owned and operated the theatre before donating the facility to the Town of Clifton Forge in 2003.
Known as “The Ballroom” in those days, the top floor has been fully restored, and Cora Dance-Alleghany now shares the facility with The Historic Masonic Theatre.
Cora Dance-Alleghany operates an office in the theatre, and the business hours have been set for Tues. and Fri. from noon till 4:00 p.m.
Cora Dance-Alleghany’s flyer reveals its mission, “Cora Dance-Alleghany creates transformative dance experience while addressing barriers that restrict individuals from accessing dance.”
The statement of purpose maintains that Cora Dance-Alleghany’s programs foster diverse populations – rural and urban finding common ground, allowing all involved (artists, students, audiences and community members) to authentically connect through art.
The flyer indicates the following: “CDA is looking forward to offering FREE and PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN community workshops, professional performances, and ongoing classes to the Alleghany Highlands region in 2023, beginning with CDA’s 10-week Spring Youth Intensive for ages 8-18.”
Shafqat will now serve as programs manager for both Cora Dance-Brooklyn and Cora Dance-Alleghany. She served as spokesperson during the ribbon-cutting ceremony and helped host the activities held on the top floor of the theatre.