RVA Dance Collective Moves Through Four Seasons

by | Jun 6, 2019 | PERFORMING ARTS

RVA Dance Collective capped off their 12th season with a striking performance at Dogtown Dance Theatre. Christopher McDaniel tells us all about it.

On Friday May 31 and Saturday June 1, RVA Dance Collective held their twelfth annual concert, entitled Four Seasons, at Dogtown Dance Theatre. The concert encapsulated their twelfth season as a professional modern dance company.

The company’s Artistic Directors, Danica Kalemdaroglu and Jess Burgess, not only choreograph original pieces on the dancers every year, but they invite new choreographers to set new work on the dancers, as well. Four Seasons featured work from Burgess and Kalemdaroglu alongside pieces from company members Shannon Comerford, Kayla Xavier, and Desmin Taylor. The guest choreographers for RVA Dance Collective’s 2018-2019 season were Kevin Jones, Artistic Director of CLAVES UNIDOS, and Kelly Hamlin, Artistic Director of KrasH!Dance.

While each number of the night had its own flair, a few stood out to me for their artistic merit and excellence:

Photo by Kate Prunkl

Choreographed by Jess Burgess, Performed by Marissa Barber, Shannon Comerford, Amil Giunti, Erika Hahn, Kelly Hamlin, Monte Jones, Michelle Koppl, Lindsay Benson Garrett, Katy McCormack, LaWanda Raines, Jasmine Tubach, and Kayla Xavier.

I have become such a fan of larger group works that highlight the capacity of awesome effects from 15 people moving on stage — sometimes in sync, but oftentimes not. When this piece began, each dancer stood huddled facing the audience, moving one at a time, like a breathing organism. The theme ran throughout the number, juxtaposing partners with mirrored parts. Special shout out to all of the costumes and score for the production.

Choreographed by Kayla Xavier, Performed by Marissa Barber, Jess Burgess, Erika Hahn, Michelle Koppl, Lindsay Benson Garrett, and LaWanda Raines

The most lighthearted piece of the night, “B.F.F.” was an extended group piece set to a live recording of a jam session from Phish. With imagery mimicking The Breakfast Club, friends slept and partied and showed true individualistic personality through dance. Choreographer Xavier made something special that remains my favorite of the night. I would like to see more works like this being made.

Photo by Dave Parrish

“And Again”
Choreographed by Danica Kalemdaroglu, Performed by Marissa Barber, Jess Burgess, Shannon Comerford, Erika Hahn, Michelle Koppl, Lindsay Benson Garrett, Katy McCormack, LaWanda Raines, Jasmine Tubach, and Kayla Xavier

By far the most complex dance of night, “And Again” is an ode to the relentless force of struggle. Set to a score from Vivaldi, the dancers were angry and showed their discontent through interactions with other dancers. The costuming was split into two colors, and was the glue that held the piece’s themes together for me. Just when you think it’s over, they start dancing again. And again.

Dogtown Dance Theatre’s next large event will be National Dance Day, Saturday July 27. On this day, every single class is offered for free and everything is available to take. More info can be found at dogtowndancetheatre.com.

Top photo: “B.F.F.” by Mike Keeling

Christopher McDaniel

Christopher McDaniel

Christopher Alan McDaniel is a 2015 VCU graduate with his Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Creative Writing. Chris aspires to be a collegiate professor of writing in his future. Until then, you can find him hosting free public creative writing workshops with the Filthy Rich and writing grants for Dogtown Dance Theatre. Chris can also be found around Richmond’s breweries and music venues enjoying what the city has to offer.

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