UW Computer Science and Engineering sophomore Jennifer Kang had never seen dance performed in Meany Hall.
But when the opportunity arose in February for free tickets to attend UW World Series’ performance of New Zealand dance troupe Black Grace, Jennifer jumped at the chance.
“Their performance was just phenomenal,” Jennifer says. “The dancing combined with the lighting and the music created this mesmerizing performance. After every dance, I would turn to my friend and comment on how quickly time had passed because I was just so enthralled by the dancers and their movements that I had lost track of time.”
Thanks to the generosity of longtime UW World Series donors Susan Knox and Weldon Ihrig, Jennifer was able to attend a concert at Meany Hall for free.
Susan and Weldon established the Arts Al!ve Student Fund for Exploring the Performing Arts, a fund that provides complimentary UW World Series performance tickets to UW students. Vouchers are distributed across campus, which students may pick up and redeem at the Ticket Office prior to a show.
“It’s a wonderful program for students like myself who would like to be able to see these high class performances without worrying about the cost,” Jennifer says.
Drawn to the fusion of New Zealand culture and modern dance, Jennifer and a friend attended the performance, then ventured to Cultivate in Elm Hall for the after party with company dancers and the artistic director in tow.
“Personally, the combination of both seeing Black Grace and then talking with the dancers of Black Grace right after the performance was just a phenomenal experience,” Jennifer says. “It was like getting an inside look of how dance isn't just a passion, but also a career for these individuals. One dancer described his journey into Black Grace and [what] life is like on the road, going from city to city, country to country, sharing their dance and culture with others. This experience was definitely a highlight of my sophomore year.”
Often studying on a shoe-string budget, university students must be selective about their time spent outside the walls of academia.
“Now that I’ve left my teens, it’s a little harder to attend performances because the ticket prices are higher,” Jennifer says. “So I have to be a bit more selective about which performances fit in my budget.”
Endowment founders Susan and Weldon wanted to give students an opportunity to foster love of the arts at a young age and to provide a source of inspiration. The couple found UW World Series to be the premier place to realize their vision.
Jennifer's experience was exactly what we envisioned when establishing the Arts A!ive endowment. We wanted to give UW students the opportunity to experience live performances of internationally-renown artists presented by the World Series and find their own passion for the performing arts that will give them joy throughout their lives.
Our hope is that other arts patrons will join us and contribute to the Arts A!ive endowment so that even greater numbers of students will have the opportunity to attend future UW World Series performances.
Jennifer, a Tri-Cities native, hopes to be one of many future students who share in the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant arts scene.
“It would be wonderful if more students like me were able to experience these performances,” she says.
To make a gift that inspires creativity and brings live performance to students year-round, contact Cristi Benefield at 206-616-6296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.