Pilar Wilder Lowden '01 has been selected to serve as a Next Generation Leader by the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD). Launched in 2014, the Next Generation Leaders program is designed to identify and cultivate the next generation of Black dance leaders, and support IABD’s desire to create a road map for building and operating a healthier, more sustainable organization.
Lowden, a psychology major at Wesleyan, was always active on campus. "The second week of my freshman year at Wesleyan, I started my dance company as a club originally called Harambee African Tribal Sounds Unlimited. I posted 'Moments of Black History' daily and founded yearly Kwanzaa and Black History, Live! Festivals." As a senior, Lowden opened her dance studio, Hayiya Dance Theatre, in Macon and was honored by Wesleyan with a Woman of Success award.
"I was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, but I grew up at Wesleyan College," Lowden said during her acceptance speech for the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association's Young Alumna Award in 2014. "I learned, I was supported, and my pursuit of excellence was nurtured and encouraged. At Wesleyan, I was able to start a dance club, be a part of a community dance club, and be a member of the College's dance company. I felt like I could and should pursue my wildest dreams with fervor, and I did."
This past summer, the Knight Foundation sponsored Lowden's attendance at Dance/USA Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, where she was introduced to Denise Saunders Thompson, currently President and CEO of IABD. Saunders visited Hayiya in July. Impressed with Lowden's goals and influences and the efforts she makes toward sustainability in the community, Saunders offered Lowden a membership to IABD.
Lowden is currently pursuing her masters of dance education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and hopes to teach dance at the collegiate level in Middle Georgia. In the future, she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in dance through Texas Woman's College's Low Residency Program.
In January, Lowden will attend the IABD conference in Los Angeles. "This [conference] will provide much needed insight as Hayiya partners with IABD to bring what we believe to be the first dance conference of this size and caliber to our area. I'm hoping to host a dance conference in 2018 or 2019 in Macon!"