Far Beyond Sugarplums 

Spring offers up dance with some strange bedfellows — food, burlesque and boxing.

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If you look at dance offerings in town this spring, you'd think Richmond was some kind of dance capital. All kinds of dance are happening all over town, so get your schedule out and plan accordingly because you don't want to miss any of it — for real.

First off, this Saturday, Feb. 7, the Elegba Folklore Society offers a cornucopia of dance, drumming, conversations, video, songs, ceremony, and yes, food, with Oba Adefunmi II and Royal Residents of Oyotunji Village in an exploration of traditional Yoruba culture. With Richmond Ballet's luxurious production of “Cinderella” at the Landmark Theater the following weekend (Feb. 13-15) exemplifying traditional western culture, you and your Valentine could take in both for a perfectly balanced cultural outlook.

But February's got even more in store. From another long and venerable tradition springs Sweet Tease Burlesque, whose Feb. 20-21 performance at Gallery5 is titled “Lore” and promises a sensual feast of dance, music, visual art and exploration. And where might those five burlesque beauties have sprung from? Why VCU Dance, where they honed not just their dance technique, but their drive to make art happen in their own way. Check it out at the source Feb. 26-28 in “VCU Dance NOW” at the Grace Street Theater, featuring students dancing in new works by guest artists and faculty.

Plan carefully, though, because those University of Richmond dancers have got some tricks up their sleeves on the same weekend in “Imagine,” a showcase of choreography by the likes of guest Robert Battle and faculty members Myra Daleng and Anne Van Gelder, with live music by eighth blackbird. In fact, the Modlin Center is hopping with dance this spring, with visits from Donald Byrd's Spectrum Dance Theater March 3-4, and by Complexions Contemporary Ballet March 17-18, founded by two former Alvin Ailey dancers.

Later in March (27-29), the Latin Ballet treats us to “Son Corazon,” a lively celebration of Hispanic poetry and African-Cuban and Spanish rhythms at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. The following weekend (April 3-4), the bewitching Monica Bill Barnes flies south from New York to share her evening-length work, “Suddenly Summer Somewhere” at the Grace Street Theater (courtesy VCU Dance) featuring, among other things, boxing and Frank Sinatra.

Oh, don't think we're done! Another locally-grown wonder, Amaranth Contemporary Dance, presents the fabulously titled “Exit to All Worlds” concert, also at Grace Street Theater, May 1-2 under the direction of Scott Putman. And please don't forget the two spring Studio Series shows at Richmond Ballet, March 24-29 and April 28-May 3, since they're invariably delightful. All this dancing is exhausting, I know, but you must see it because it's all good. S



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