A Dancer-Turned-Writer Offers Her Picks For Richmond's Fall Season 

click to enlarge Festival of South African Dance, featuring Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies at  Dominion Arts Center, Oct. 5.

Columbia Artists Management

Festival of South African Dance, featuring Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies at Dominion Arts Center, Oct. 5.

As summer begins to fade, look to Richmond’s fall dance offerings to provide the light you need to experience something engaging, uplifting and remarkable.

Dogtown Dance Theatre has nurtured the growth of resident company, Electric Nomad Dance, which is branching out with its second annual theatrical dance adventure, “Eternal Forest,” on Sept. 8-9. Engaging a diverse cast of imaginative and resourceful artists, this thought-provoking performance aims to catalyze understanding and affection for the forest while delving into issues of conservation, diversity and social equality.

“Eternal Forest” will feature Rin Ajna’s Myriad Project, as well as RVA Dance Collective, performing choreography by Jess Burgess and Danica Kalemdaroglu. Aerial dance artists Host of Sparrows will take flight during the show and footage from local filmmaker Dawn Flores’ documentary, “The Forest Project,” should contribute to the cultural relevancy and cohesive scope of the show’s message. Plant yourself here to witness the growth of this collaborative organism.

click to enlarge Richmond Ballet’s Studio One, Sept. 19-24. - SARAH FERGUSON
  • Sarah Ferguson
  • Richmond Ballet’s Studio One, Sept. 19-24.

Richmond Ballet leaps into its fall season with Studio One on Sept. 19-24, filling the intimate theater with enormous choreographic talent. George Balanchine’s “Tarantella,” with music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, is a whirlwind duet, a brief but explosive pas de deux blending Italian folk dance with syncopated sass. Following the energetic romp of “Tarantella,” up next is “Portrait of Billie,” John Butler’s poignant portrayal of legendary singer Billie Holiday’s public glory and private tragedy. Holiday’s own voice provides the soundtrack to Butler’s powerful choreographic treatment of the singer’s behind-the-scenes angst. Concluding the evening will be a world premiere by Ma Cong, whose exquisitely crafted works have been much loved, often performed and eagerly anticipated by dancers and patrons alike.

On Oct. 5, Dominion Arts Center plays host to “Festival of South African Dance, featuring Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies,” an ensemble of 20 dancers and accompanying musicians presenting two distinct dance traditions born from the perseverance of the human spirit. Elevate your heart rate with this pulsating, rhythm-filled evening of South African urban dance.

Sharing the Thursday night spotlight across town, and continuing through Sunday, Oct. 8, Starr Foster Dance Project will breaking boundaries in its sweet 16th season. Known for creating emotionally resonant works, Starrene Foster fills her opening playbill with three world premieres and a restaging of her haunting “Nineteen43.” First performed in 2013, “Nineteen43” is a masterful retelling of Holocaust stories from Foster’s grandmother, a living and breathing archive preserving stories of endurance, tenacity and commitment. This revival features an original score by Richmond musician and composer Robbie Kinter. “Sleep of the Guilty” promises a fiery interpretation of restless nights and distressed dreams while “Animal” provides the darkly humorous antidote to “Sleep’s” anxiety-laden inspirations. Foster unleashes the ferocity of her females in “The Shaking Season,” an electrifying quintet symbolizing the release and subsequent shedding of undesired burdens. Shake it off indeed.

You’ll want to catch Doug Varone and Dancers at the Modlin Center on Oct. 11. With an expansive choreographic vision and an affinity for kinetically thrilling works across the genres of dance, theater, opera and video, Varone reveals the intricacies and nuances of human behavior in his electrifying and physically thrilling choreography. This run includes opportunity for home-grown talent with University of Richmond dancers performing his “The Bench Quartet.”

The Latin Ballet of Virginia celebrates community while honoring the deceased in “Dia de los Muertos” presented at Swift Creek Mill Theatre from Oct. 24-26. If you aren’t able to attend these morning shows, sate your craving for the traditional Mexican festivities at Gottwald Theatre on Oct. 27-28 with “Lily y la Mariposa,” a performing arts interpretation of Dia de los Muertos based on the original play by local playwright Lucinda McDermott. 

October also heralds the return of ArtoberVa., the month-long initiative created by CultureWorks, which promotes community engagement with the artists and organizations who contribute color and compassion to the city. Check out its online calendar at artoberva.com for updated information on inclusive arts experiences, including a joint program pairing KDance with Chamberlayne Actors Theatre for “Dance, Drama and Beyond,” an evening of short plays mixed with dance. Expect Kaye Weinstein Gary’s signature whimsy to be on full display.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Fall Senior Project Concert appears in two installments, with Part I debuting on Nov. 3 as a site-specific collaboration with 1708 Gallery’s “InLight” exhibition and Part II at the Grace Street Theater from Nov. 16-18. The university’s esteemed dance program boasts graduates who impact the landscape of dance locally and beyond, so grab a seat to see the future in motion.

Before visions of sugarplums dance into your holiday plans, Richmond Ballet presents its second fall offering, “Trio,” at the Carpenter Theatre from Nov. 3-5. Mixing classicism with modern expressiveness, Dennis Spaight’s “Gloria” is set to Antonio Vivaldi’s eponymous Mass with movements mirroring the score, both joyous and somber. The collaboration of the Richmond Symphony will add intensity to minimalist composer Arvo Pärt’s evocative “Tabula Rasa” and “Fur Alina” scores, which accompany Gina Patterson’s “Silence.” Salvatore Aiello’s “Journey,” accentuating 12 men’s athleticism and energy, gave him the courage to pursue his choreographic dreams, so don’t miss the chance to behold the beauty of his beginnings.





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