Donnell Oakley, a Raleigh native who relocated to New York upon graduating from UNC-Greensboro in 2001, returned to her Carolina roots this week to reprise her role as Maria in the one-night-only performance of Doug Elkins & Friends’ Fräulein Maria.
Beyond her childhood connection to North Carolina, Donnell shares a personal link to ADF, having attended our six-week school program as a scholarship student in 1999 and 2001. She has returned to perform on the ADF stage over the years—including a piece with Chuck Davis’ Durham-based African American Dance Ensemble—and is particularly thrilled to be back this year to kick off the festival. “I tend to be pretty sentimental,” she says. “To have friends, family and dance mentors see me onstage… It’s pretty special to come home.”