The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Blank Canvas dance group is all-inclusive, promotes diversity and unity

UNC student dance company Blank Canvas has come a long way in the last 10 years.

And in the genre-bending, 100- person finale that serves as the highlight of its fall performance on Sunday, the group will show just how far it has come.

Blank Canvas started in 2000, group leaders said, although no documented history exists of this beginning.

Today, Blank Canvas has more than five times as many dancers as it did when the group started and performs two shows every year in Memorial Hall.

Despite its significant growth, Blank Canvas remains committed to providing students with an outlet for creative expression in an environment free from judgment, members said.

“I love it because it’s non-exclusive — which is why I think the group is so united,” said dancer Ashley Russo in an e-mail.

Russo, a junior, is dancing in four numbers this semester. Even with three hours of demanding practice every week, Russo said she enjoys putting in the time for the group.

“Practices are just a really great time to catch up with friends and dance — which is something we all love to do,” she said. “That’s also why you never really have to tell people to be at practice, everyone wants to be there anyway.”

Brigid Grabert has seen the evolution of the group firsthand. A graduate student at UNC, Grabert has either choreographed for or danced with Blank Canvas for eight years.

“Blank Canvas is so important to me because it provides me with an avenue to express myself creatively through dance and, especially, choreography,” Grabert said in an e-mail.

Blank Canvas prides itself on being all-inclusive — no auditions are held and no dancer is turned away.

The group today has almost 300 dancers, 28 of which also serve as choreographers.

Even those with no experience are encouraged to take the stage. Meleah Faucette, the group’s vice president of choreography, said that it is the diversity of Blank Canvas’ membership that makes it unique — not the choreography or the number of dancers.

“Because our choreographers and members represent such a wide spectrum of genres, there truly is a place for everyone,” Faucette said in an e-mail.

This inclusivity has helped make Blank Canvas the largest dance group on campus.

The group’s membership has increased every year, and keeping up with the demand is sometimes a challenge, group president Caroline Long said.

“I am in charge of getting our rehearsal space reserved for the semester which is an insane challenge as dance space at this school is extremely limited,” Long said.

While Long is excited to see all of the dances in Sunday’s performance, the finale is sure to be a show-stopper, she said.

“There are almost 100 dancers in it, and it has jazz, hip hop, tap and clogging sections,” Long said. “It’s great to see so many dancers working together on one dance each week and it’s such a perfect fit for our 10th-anniversary show.”

The finale will cover a decade of dance. The number’s mash-up of genres, skill levels and music will celebrate the past 10 years of music — and of Blank Canvas.

As its name suggests, Blank Canvas provides a place where students can create freely and express themselves fully, something members said they appreciate.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

“I think people are really the most themselves when they dance,” Matt Karkutt, a senior dancer, said.


Contact the Arts Editor at