Duke Arts Annex creates new workshops open to public
Lily Negash ran to her spot on the mat as “Single Ladies” began to play. She rolled her wrists. Flicked her hair. Got low. Her dance was an exact replica of Beyonce’s music video choreography.
Thirty students and even faculty members looked on, dressed in sportswear, and they whooped and clapped as Negash crouched low. If you like it, then you should’ve put a ring on it.
After the demonstration, Negash, a Duke senior studying evolutionary anthropology, would break down each step for them.
They lined up on the open dance floor of the Duke Arts Annex, a student arts Shangri La that got its start last summer. The building is tucked away along Gattis Street, where a warehouse was secured by the Duke Division of Student Affairs and given a second life with vivid swirls of blue and orange paint.
This is the first semester they’ve offered workshops open to both Duke students and non-students. Negash teaches “The Beyonce Experience,” where they also learn the choreography for “Run the World” and “Get Me Bodied.” Other instructors are teaching lyrical hip-hop, acting exercises, contemporary dance, Irish dancing, photography techniques, shoe designing and wool jewelry.
The swath of space in the Annex is divided into three sections: The dance practice room, lined with mirrors; the hangout spot, where people study or nap in beanbag and thrift shop chairs; and the visual arts studio, where students can set up easels or sculpt.
Students run the place. They’re the ones who come up with the workshop content, and they can be the obvious dance and art majors or physics and engineering majors with an intense love of the arts. Negash has learned dance since she was 6 years old and is a member of Momentum Dance Company on campus. She decided to take the Beyonce choreography she was learning for her team and share it with the masses.
“From the time that it opened, it’s been busy, and it just continues to grow,” said Caitlin Shaw, program coordinator for Duke University Center Activities and Events. “... From the very beginning, it’s the opportunity for the creativity and the vibrant energy that students bring to the space (that) is something I really love.”
She said they’re finalizing the workshops that will be offered this spring, since the fall slots are almost sold out.
Lavanya Machiraju, a Duke Fuqua School of Business student in the master of management studies program, said she’s new to Durham, but the Annex gives her a place where she belongs and where she can meet other arts lovers.
“They feed off each other and it’s just an awesome environment,” she said.
To explore the Arts Annex’s offerings, visit studentaffairs.duke.edu/ucae/facilities/arts-annex.