Opportunity to honor a legacy

Senior Dance Education major Fiona Scruggs at the Château des Milandes in southern France.
Senior Dance Education major Fiona Scruggs at the Château des Milandes in southern France.

What does it take for a dance education major to go from Southwest Virginia to Southern France? For Fiona Scruggs, it took an international icon, inspiration and the gift of scholarship.

Scruggs, a senior in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, recently completed her Honors Capstone project in which she choreographed an original dance show about the life and career of Josephine Baker.

“Baker was a legendary and internationally renowned dancer, singer, activist, French Resistance agent, author and mother from the Jazz Age through the Civil Rights era,” explains Scruggs. “Part of my research was conducted in France during the summer of 2018 since Baker spent the majority of her life and career in France.”

Her research into Baker began during a Fall 2017 History and Philosophy of Dance course. It was during this class that Scruggs wrote an Honors Contract research paper on Baker.

“While researching, I learned that Baker's Château des Milandes is in southern France,” she says. “I thought it would be fascinating to visit there and potentially develop this research into my Honors Capstone.”

Scruggs applied for, and was awarded, a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, a Scholar-Citizen in Action Grant, and a McGlothlin Award through the International Education Center.

“I am very thankful for these awards as they made this capstone research experience possible,” she says. “While there I visited Baker’s Château des Milandes in southern France. In Paris, I visited the Museé de Montmartre and the Paris Opera. I also attended a show at the Moulin Rouge and saw Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal performance of Nefés.”

Scruggs continues, “The McGlothlin Award also helped to support my time at the Salzburg International Ballet Academy in Salzburg, Austria, where I was able to study for four weeks.

“Studying abroad was amazing.”

Scruggs says that, after translating her experiences into the choreography for her capstone performance, she plans to continue with creative research and performance projects in the future.

“This amazing experience will certainly help shape my dance career,” she explains. “I really enjoy the opportunities to share my passion for dance with others and to instill a love for artistic creativity in any aspect of life.”

Scruggs believes that much of what she has experienced and accomplished would not have been possible without the support of Radford University donors.

“Scholarship support has made every experience at Radford University possible for me,” she says. “I have been able to focus on my studies and performances without the stress of making financial ends meet.”

Scruggs continues, “Giving back to Radford University gives students a chance to accomplish goals and dreams that may not have been possible otherwise. Giving back also inspires students to reach beyond and give back in the future.

“It keeps Radford University’s legacy going.”