Debut dance festival to showcase local artists

Dancers representing FDANCE, K Dance and Movement House will perform at the inaugural Richmond Dance Festival. Photo provided by Richmond Dance Festival.

Morgan White
Contributing Writer

Richmond will be filled with performances, films and classes starting on April 25 and ending on May 25, aimed at showing how much dance happens in the city.

The Richmond Dance Festival starts on the weekend of April 25, with “SHORTS,” a production of short plays and dance movements from contemporary dance company K Dance. The production will feature five short collaborations with directors Billy Maupin, Kaye Gary, Melissa Rayford and Molly Hood. For the weekend of May 2, the dance company FDANCE will present work alongside Ground Zero Dance. The performances will feature Rebecca Ferrell of FDANCE whose work focuses on confronting social structures that surround women in America. 

“There are a ton of professional modern dance companies here, more so than any other dance form,” Ferrell said. “(Richmond Dance Festival) gives us an opportunity to showcase some of these companies and promote the contemporary dance scene in Richmond.”  

RVA Dance Films, which were filmed by local choreographers and filmmakers, will be featured on May 10. The International Screendance Festival and the Dance on Camera Festival have selected to include both of the featured films. 

Choreography set to the music of Rattlemouth and Ruckus Watusi will be featured May 16 and 17. During the concert, Pam England, of Ground Zero Dance will premiere a new piece with music composed by Rattlemouth saxophonist, Danny Finney. The weekend will also show a new work of Beau Dobson featuring dance students from the Henrico High School Center for the Arts. The final weekend will show the company debut of Movement House, a project created by VCU Dance students Rachel Rinehardt and Johnny Mercer Jr. The festival will also allow Movement house to make its company debut.

“The creation of Movement House was born both from Rachel and my own passion to create and explore,” Mercer said. “Both of us have a very deep interest in the human psyche; we both hold an interest specifically in how the mind controls and creates emotion, situation and individualized environments.” 

Mercer and Rinehardt are both seniors looking to further establish themselves as choreographers and dancers. They said it is a hope of theirs that this premiere of Movement House can act as a jumpstart to the future of the dance company. The duo are both Richmond natives and have included not only VCU dance students in their work but also area high school dance students. They have noticed how plentiful hidden talent is in the city and aim to bring it out through their work. 

“To me, dance is about honesty,” Rinehardt said. “Dancing is taking everything you can’t or won’t say and spilling it onto the floor. I think what we love to show is that dance can be so many things, and you can say so much through it.”

The Richmond Dance Festival will be held at the Dogtown Dance Theatre which is located at 109 W. 15th St. Season pass tickets are available online for $80, and individual weekend tickets cost between $10 and $20.

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