The dance of life news

For the past 21 years, the 43-year-old dancer has been a member of west virginia dance company, the state’s first and only professional touring dance company, founded by toneta akers-toler in 1977. He’s taught governor’s school of the arts for the past 14 years and is the choreographer at greenbrier valley theatre in lewisburg.

He has created original modern dance pieces for the west virginia dance company, james madison university, marshall university, west virginia wesleyan college, charleston ballet, and various high schools in the state.

In march, laney’s dedication and expertise throughout his career was recognized by state leaders, when west virginia division of culture and history commissioner randal reid-smith presented laney with the 2018 leadership in the arts award.West virginia

Laney, who was nominated for the award by beckley dance theatre founder jerry rose at the request of akers-toler, has danced or taught in every region in west virginia.

He’s been an adjunct professor at marshall university and west virginia wesleyan college and has set up dance pieces at west virginia university and several more colleges in the state.

He has toured with west virginia dance company, performing at public schools to integrate art into the educational system through a unique dance STEAM program pioneered by akers-toler.

“I haven’t gone to every county, but I work in every region of the state — or, I have for the past 20 some years,” laney said.West virginia “west virginia dance company performs everywhere.

“I’ve gone everywhere in just promoting the arts, and, hopefully, education, with all the teaching I’ve done from lewisburg to huntington and everywhere else.”

Born in germany, laney lived in europe until he was seven. His parents, donald and patricia laney, settled the family in north carolina during laney’s eighth grade school year, after laney’s dad retired from the military.

“when I was 4, I was very clumsy as a child, so my mother and father put me in tap dance lessons when I was 5 to try to teach me some coordination,” said laney.West virginia “they were shocked by how much I liked it.”

“I can be different people, do different things, not worry about my real life, sometimes,” he described dance. “there’s just so many aspects to it.

Laney played sports through junior high but continued with dance. When he went to college, his natural affinity for choreographed movement propelled him to change majors.

When he was 18, he auditioned at theatre west virginia and joined the cast of the summer shows at grandview. Three years later, he joined west virginia dance company, and west virginia has offered a charmed existence to him, ever since.Dance company

“I’ve been lucky enought in the state to be able to do what I love, which is an array of things,” he said. “I like to design and build costumes on top of dancing.

“I don’t know if it’s a comfort level or the way toneta makes it feel like home, but a lot of the dancers have stayed forever around here,” he added. “some of our girls marry local guys.

He left in 2001, moving to new york city for two months. He witnessed the second attack on the world trade center from 20 blocks away, watching as a plane crashed into the south tower at 2 WTC in lower manhattan.

Meanwhile, he found the hardscrabble life of a dancer in the city — working one job to support his second job of dancing — to be draining and less than ideal.Virginia dance

After working one school year at a public north carolina school, laney headed to the university of california— irvine for two years to get his terminal degree in dance, a master’s degree.

He was offered a position in new york after graduation, but he returned to west virginia instead of going back to the city or entering academe.

Laney enriches the mountain state by perfectly harmonizing his passions for dance, theatre and education to dare others to think outside the box and to become more creative.