By Sam McDonald

Like many Old Dominion University dance students, Alaina Reed is a champion multitasker.

She juggles the demands of rehearsal and coursework while always keeping her eyes on the prize — a career in professional dance.

Having empathetic teachers helps, of course. Reed credits Adjunct Professor of Dance Lauren Sinclair with guiding her through some important leaps ahead in skill and poise.

“When I first took her class, I was scared to venture outside what I had been taught,” Reed said. “But she’s so bubbly and supportive — always there when you need her. She’s made a big impact on my confidence as I continue my training at ODU.”

In the University Dance Theatre Fall Concert taking place through Saturday, Nov. 18, Reed and nearly two dozen other young dancers will step into the spotlight and reveal the results of their discipline and artistry.

The concert is offered by the ODU Dance Program once a semester and features choreography by ODU faculty and guest artists, all performed by ODU students.  

This fall program is presented in five parts. One is a dance film created by ODU dance alumna Rebekah Richards. Shot during the coronavirus pandemic, the clip features four alums, all of whom were dance students at the time.

“It’s been interesting to rewatch this film in 2023,” wrote concert director Megan Thompson, also ODU’s Dance Program director. “It really evokes the feelings of isolation and cabin fever that many of us experienced in 2021.” 

A woman strikes a dance pose in front of a fountain.

ODU student Alaina Reed previews a ballet piece called “Letters to the Lost,” which explores the ways we process grief. Image credit: Aspen Doucet

Another piece, “Category Is …,” was choreographed by a visiting artist Tiffanie Carson who focuses on contemporary and commercial dance styles. Thompson described it as striking and entertaining. “It will be a crowd favorite,” she predicted.

“Pouring Forth” is a piece choreographed by Victoria Fink set to music by Christopher Tignor.

A junior at ODU, Reed has danced in the concert each semester since arriving at the university. For this fall concert, she’s performing in two pieces.

One of them, choreographed by Sinclair, is titled “Letters to the Lost.” With music by Philip Glass, Paul Leonard-Morgan, and Dustin O’Halloran, it expresses ideas about the emotional twists and turns created by grief.

“Something we all have in common is loss, and everyone processes loss differently,” Sinclair wrote. “For me, it was about still finding hope in the journey.”

Reed said she is also excited to dance in the concert’s funky finale, “Can You Dig It?” which was choreographed by Assistant Professor of Dance James Morrow.  He specializes in a fusion of modern, contemporary and urban dance.

Much of “Can You Dig It?” is powered by the ground-breaking music of James Brown.

“It’s music theatre mixed with hip-hop,” Reed said of “Can You Dig It?” “That’s going to be really fun.” Some of the dancers show off their rapping skills as part of the performance.

“In that piece there’s been a learning curve in an exciting way,” Thompson wrote. “They’re learning how to use their voices and improvise. They are exploring call and response patterns. It’s been great to watch them grow more confident with each rehearsal.”

Reed said she looks forward to performing for a special audience member: her grandmother, Elaine Reed.

“She’s the main reason I dance,” the student said. “She encouraged me to go after my passion and that’s what I’ve done since I was 13.”

Want to go?

When: Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 15-17, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Where: University Theatre, 4600 Monarch Way, Norfolk, Virginia

Tickets:  Available through