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Louisiana native returns for State of La Danse

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Dancer Blakeley White-McGuire has performed around the world, from Europe and Asia to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she’s planning a return performance.

White-McGuire, a Louisiana native who lives in New York City, is a principal dancer with the internationally renowned Martha Graham Dance Company, which she joined in 2002.

She will return to the University for the School of Music and Performing Arts' State of La Danse from Nov. 14-17, where she will restage her dance work Woman and perform as a guest solo artist.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14-16 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 17. All performances will be at the Ducrest-Gilfry Auditorium at Angelle Hall on the UL Lafayette campus.

The New York Times has called her a dancer of “powerful technique, dramatic instinct and an appealing modern spunk, ” something she never envisioned as a child.

White-McGuire specializes in modern dance, which she defines as concert dance for the 20th and 21st centuries and says is “one of the two, I believe, unique American art forms, along with jazz.”

“Modern dance is expressive of the modern way of life. Just as ballet is expressive of 18th Century European sensibilities, modern dance has a modern sensibility, “ she says.

Unlike ballet, dancers don’t wear shoes, White-McGuire says. Another difference is music isn’t necessarily the focal point.

“We’re barefoot and we use the body as full form. Modern dance puts dance and movement at the center of the work, where other dance forms typically marry very importantly with music,” she says.

Growing up in tiny Port Allen, La. near Baton Rouge, White-McGuire performed at festivals, and Mardi Gras balls, “little shows here and there,” never envisioning her dancing would carry her to an international stage.

“As a child it was nothing fancy. Ballet, tap and jazz, the regular kind of Louisiana dance studio experience. But I did always love it. That was my outlet, my expression, as it is for so many young people,” she said.

In 1993, when she was 19, her mother brought home pamphlets about summer dance programs in New York.

White-McGuire decided to attend one, and that summer trip never ended. “It kind of feels like I just packed up my suitcase and never came home. None of my family are dancers or artists. No one at that time had lived out of the Deep South. So it was a very unusual thing.

She’s never regretted the decision, however.

“I’ve seen much of the world, but I haven’t been to Africa. And I’m hoping one day to get there, but I’ve been everywhere lese.”

To learn more about State of La Danse, visit