VCU welcomes new dance department chair

Elgie Sherrod will take the lead as the new chair of the dance department at VCU. Photo courtesy of Elgie Sherrod.

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

As a young girl, Elgie Sherrod would watch dancers on television and dream of becoming a ballerina. Now taking the lead as the next department chair of dance at VCU, Sherrod will help other students reach their dreams.

Sherrod will leave Florida A&M University, where she taught as an associate professor of dance studies and served as the Interim Chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She begins her season with VCU Aug. 1 by collaborating with the current interim chair, Lea Marshall, to introduce new ideas and continue to help the dance program grow.

Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Sherrod’s upcoming move to VCU will be her first time living in Richmond. Sherrod said she was both excited and anxious to begin a new chapter.

“I’m anxious to get ready, get started and get to work,” Sherrod said. “I’m excited about the full potential that I envision will happen for me … and the department as well.”

Sherrod said as a young child, she was involved with dance at her church and often watched ballerinas perform on the local television station.

“Whereas many of the young people … fantasize about being this little ballerina, I really wanted to be one,” Sherrod said.

After high school, Sherrod attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study behavioral psychology. During school, she continued to pursue dance; after graduation, she moved to Philadelphia where she trained with the Philadelphia School of the Arts and the Philadelphia Dance Company. 

After many years of dancing for regional companies and local dance schools, Sherrod went to Temple University and achieved a master’s in dance education and doctoral degree in dance pedagogy and theory. Sherrod said near the end of her dance career she knew she wanted to continue in the field of dance, and teaching opened a new door for her future.

“I knew the next step would be to help other people become dancers,” Sherrod said.

In 2000, Sherrod became a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar, studying Brazilian dance and culture in relation to religion and education.

“The dances are more like a whole way of life, a religious experience of the dance form,” Sherrod said. “I find that interesting and exciting, but really they tell the story of who we are as many different types of people.”

As the next department chair, Sherrod said she plans to bring her own dance perspectives to VCU.

“One of the things I’d like to do is make sure the dancers are versed in dance pedagogy,” Sherrod said. “I would like to see them be able to teach it as well, so that when they’re ready to make their transition, they have another career leg to stand on.”

Sherrod’s other ideas for the dance department include adding another dance degree program to VCU, and collaborating with the medical school. Sherrod also wants to encourage students to be more involved in teaching dance.

“It’s all going to be about exploration and discovery,” Sherrod said. “Because that’s what the arts is all about.”

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