Coker College Dance Program Graduate Receives National Award for Performance

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Hartsville, S.C. – June 23, 2016 – Earlier this month, recent Coker College graduates Tierra Foxworth and Tammaka Staley traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform their original work, “Curveless Smile,” at the National College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition, Foxworth received the Outstanding Student Performance Award. Sponsored by the ACDA and Dance Magazine, it is one of only two awards presented to participants in the festival: Outstanding Student Choreography and Outstanding Student Performance.

“Curveless Smile” was choreographed by Foxworth and is performed by both Foxworth and Staley. The collaboration originally took place during their senior year at Coker. It’s a unique piece in that it is an intertwining of two artistic mediums: dance and the spoken word. Foxworth collaborated with spoken-word artist Staley by blending her original poem, “A Black Girl’s Smile,” with Foxworth’s original voiceover reflections on her mother’s life.

“Curveless Smile” was one of two out of 42 choreographic works chosen at the southeast conference of the American College Dance Association, one of the regional conferences that determine the pieces chosen for the National College Dance Festival. The annual American College Dance Association’s National College Dance Festival presents three programs featuring some of the finest dance works selected from colleges and universities throughout the country. Each program showcases approximately 10 dances, with a total of 31 schools participating in the festival.

“Traveling to D.C. for the first time to perform my own work was a very mind-blowing experience,” said Foxworth. “The opportunity to not only dance, but to enter a building that has hosted so many brilliantly talented artists and performances was ultimately a blessing.”

The panelists for the ACDA/Dance Magazine Awards were Dana Tai Soon Burgess, a leading American choreographer; Jennifer Stahl, Editor-in-Chief for Dance Magazine; and Lisa Traiger, a prominent arts journalist. When describing why Foxworth was chosen for the Outstanding Student Performance honor, the panelists said, “The dancer from ‘Curveless Smile’ [was selected] for the fearless way she embodied a powerful personal testimony. Her delivery had a vulnerability and openness, creating a genuine theatricality."

“This award is by far the highlight of my dance career,” said Foxworth. “To anyone else it may symbolize a great performance, but for me I think of it as God's way of telling me that dance is for me no matter how many pirouettes I can or can not execute. I'm extremely grateful for the non-stop encouragement from the dance faculty and students, my family and church family. Without them, the success of ‘Curveless Smile’ would not exist.”

“The Outstanding Student Performance award that Tierra received is a wonderful honor and recognition,” said Angela Gallo, professor of dance and chair of the dance, music and theatre department at Coker College. “513 works were adjudicated throughout the country; 31 were seen at the Kennedy Center and from that she was chosen. We are excited to see her continue presenting her work in new venues and communities and to see what new creative projects she will develop."

About the ACDA: The American College Dance Association’s (ACDA) primary focus is to support and promote the wealth of talent and creativity that is prominent throughout college and university dance departments. ACDA has 13 regional conferences and works from each conference are chosen to be performed at the ACDA-sponsored National College Dance Festival.

Release written by Media Relations Coordinator Elizabeth Coxe Hubbard.



Coker College is a student-focused, private liberal arts college located in Hartsville, South Carolina. Coker combines round table, discussion-based learning with hands-on experiences to encourage active participation in and out of the classroom. A supportive, close-knit community prepares Coker students with the confidence and practical life skills they need to reach their personal best, in college and beyond.

Founded in 1908, Coker is a bachelor’s and master’s degree-granting institution and competes in 21 NCAA Division II sports. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review, and by Washington Monthly as one of the Southeast's "Best Bang for the Buck" colleges.