Davis & Elkins College will celebrate Black History Month with two special events beginning at 2 p.m. Feb. 16.
A dance, music, song and spoken word presentation, "African Roots in Appalachia," will feature D&E Adjunct Professor of Dance Laurie Goux, a brief lecture by Sheila Coleman-Castells and guest artist Crystina Reseter, a choreographer from Morgantown.
The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. in Robbins Memorial Chapel on the D&E campus and will be followed by the opening reception for the Riverside School Photo Exhibit in The Joni and "Buck" Smith Arts Forum located in Myles Center.
Reseter is a four-year member and current guest artist with Alchemy Dance Project, a semi- professional dance company in Morgantown, under the artistic direction of Angela Dennis.
As a member of Alchemy, Reseter has performed in several productions including Secrets and Light, From the Same Fire and Ebenezer.
Members of the Elkins High School band drumline will perform traditional African drumming. Under the direction of Jon Clingerman and Andy Sneed, the drumline has been working with Goux over the past several weeks in preparation of the performance. The drumming group includes students Khalil Woodward, Marcus Kisner and Cody Schauman.
"For this celebration we are presenting West African rhythms through music and dance that has influenced American culture," Goux said. "We often don't realize how much Appalachian culture was influenced by these roots. One just has to consider the banjo and step dancing to see the connection."
The performance will also explore more contemporary dance and rhythm through words, song and audience participation.
The Riverside School Photo Exhibit, which will be on display through the end of February, includes photographs and memories provided by the Riverside School Association Board as well as other alumni of the school. Images were gleaned from snapshots and old yearbooks, and provide many never-before-seen images of the school.
"The exhibit depicts the unique history of the Elkins Riverside School which was built between 1902 and 1905 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places," Goux said. "It is important because its past speaks into our future."
During the reception, an oral history will be presented by Riverside School alumni, including President of the Riverside School Association Melvin Marks, Mabel Marks, Anne Lawrence and Yvonne Smith.
The Riverside School represented black academic excellence as students from neighboring counties chose to complete their education there. Melvin Marks states the goal is to "continue to be an asset to the community," create a Riverside Multi-Cultural Center and preserve the archives of the school.