GW Ballet Dancers Recreate 1961 Photo on National Mall

Student dancers posed in front of the Reflecting Pool to put a modern twist on a vintage photo.

GW Balance
GW ballet dancers pose in front of the Reflecting Pool to recreate a 1961 photograph. (Logan Werlinger/ GW Today)
September 19, 2016

By Kristen Mitchell

Dressed in white tutus and pointe shoes, George Washington University dancers displayed their timeless ballet skills as tourists snapped photos of the scene while bustling from monument to monument. Striking a pose, the women imitated student dancers who stood in the same place 55 years ago.

GW’s official Instagram account posted a 1961 photo of students posing in front of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial over the summer, and buzz about the picture instantly began circulating between members of Balance, GW’s ballet group. Remarking on the beauty of the vintage photo, the student dancers got the idea to recreate the shot.

“Ballet is very timeless,” said Brooke Laitin, a senior in political communication and vice president of Balance. “We just wanted to be able to show GW that we can carry a tradition from the 1960s to today.”

With the help of GW Marketing and Creative Services, the club organized a time to meet in front of the Reflecting Pool to recreate the vintage photograph after the school year began. The women wore white tutus from their annual Nutcracker show and posed in the same fashion as the dancers who came before them.

In the original photo, the National Mall is free of pedestrian traffic, however in 2016 the tourist hotspot is almost always full of people checking out the sights on a sunny day. The 1961 dancers were also standing opposite the Reflecting Pool on ground that is now incorporated into the National World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004.

Even though the National Mall has changed, the tradition of ballet has not.

“Ballet is the foundation of all dance, so it’s really important for us to celebrate that fact,” Ms. Laitin said.

About 100 people are actively involved in Balance each semester. Balance president Dana Kimmelstiel, a senior in psychology and criminal justice, said she hopes recreating the iconic picture sparks interest in the club among younger students.

“I know when I was a freshman, I was kind of looking for my place on campus coming from a little suburb versus being in this big college city setting,” Ms. Kimmelstiel said. “I found Balance as my home and my family within the GW community.”