Christal Brown ’01
Asked about her unusual family name, Virginia Moomaw speculated it was an Americanized reinterpretation from the original Alsatian dialect for “mama.” Moomaw would become the artistic mother of a generation of dancers at UNCG and nurture future students through a scholarship created in her honor.
Thirty years of Moomaw’s life were dedicated to developing the dance program at UNCG; from 1945 to 1975 her leadership was crucial to the burgeoning department.
She came to Woman’s College in 1945 from Iowa State University, as dance began expanding from its original placement in the physical education program. Moomaw worked with university president Dr. Frank Porter Graham to approve the Graduate Creative Arts Program, establishing one of the first dance MFA programs in the United States.
Participation in national, regional, and state dance organizations was strategic to promoting dance at UNCG. Woman’s College was chosen as the site of workshops and meetings due to exceptional facilities, central location, and, according to professional journals, “the very able leadership of Virginia Moomaw.”
In 1975, the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation honored her dedication by establishing the Virginia Moomaw Dance Scholarship Fund. Recipients must be dance majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA, demonstrating “reliability, enthusiasm, professionalism, and strong potential for success” in choreography, performance, and/or teaching.
Moomaw scholarship recipient Christal Brown ’01 exceeded those expectations.
After earning her BFA in dance at UNCG, Brown toured nationally with Chuck Davis’s African-American Dance Ensemble, and internationally with Andrea E. Woods/Souloworks. Brown subsequently performed with and managed Gesel Mason Performance Projects, while apprenticing with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in the D.C. metro area. Relocating to New York, Brown apprenticed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, before finding her home as a principal performer, community specialist, and apprentice program coordinator with Urban Bush Women.
A native of Kinston, North Carolina, Christal Brown is assistant professor and program chair of dance at Middlebury College in Vermont. She is athletic and creative, designing choreographic works that redefine the art and structure of dance.
Brown expresses the perspective of a seasoned artistic educator:
“As I reflect on my time at UNCG and the trajectory of my career, I am grateful for Virginia Moomaw’s contribution to Dance at UNCG and the field at large. I hope to have an impact on young dancers as did she. Her investment in me will be multiplied through my teaching.”
From one “moomaw” to another, the dance goes on.
Story by Zoe Dillard, Donor Relations
Endowments provide donors with opportunities to create living legacies and touch the lives of future generations.