Latin classics, pop hits and deep cuts curated by Ricky Halo. Be ready to dance.
Richmond Ballet’s annual performance season ended with the “Studio Three” concert, as a professional ballet company now entering its 35th year, and the 2018 Studio Three production on opening night resounded what I believe the Ballet represents: refined professionalism and paramount artistic expression. Richmond Ballet has operated as a non-profit organization for 61 years, awakening and uplifting the human spirit through the art form of ballet. One of my preferable forms of their enlightenment is their educational outreach through the School of Richmond Ballet and the Minds in Motion program instituted within Richmond Public Schools. These endeavors were strengthened after Studio Three’s opening night as Richmond Ballet held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for two brand new studios on their facility’s ground floor.
The performance opened with the reproduction of a 2012 premiere, “Gargoyles.” This piece stood as cornerstone for what ballet can do with classical repertoire, classical music, and a fresh theme. As always, dancer Eri Nishihara’s refined technique took my breath away with the poise she possesses, and Cody Beaton’s repetition of clawed hands while being seemingly manipulated by her partner was the most thought-provoking movements series of the night. Abi Goldstein and Thel Moore’s partnering had a blip of continuity that could have been interpreted as a mistake, but that was not my opinion. I was able to see, for the first time of my concert-going experiences, that these dancers are human, and that these dancers make a career in the performing arts. One of the most difficult jobs available. However, the duo owned that stage.
After a short intermission, Mayor Stoney entered the room and sat just in front of me for the world premiere of Katarzyna Skarpetowska’s “Awkarium.” This number featured 12 of the Ballet’s best, and it simply did not disappoint. Following the theme of a fluorescently lit aquarium, costume designer Fritz Masten, this year’s recipient of the Irene Sharaff Award, clad the dancers in leotards of blue and green with yellow stripes, making them truly reminiscent of a school of saltwater fish. Unique choreography and real fluorescent light stripes as a backdrop made the dance an experience, taking me inside the water. The piece featured excellent pointe, and when the company takes the piece to Salt Lake City on tour, the rest of the world’s ballet community will be in for a contemporary treat.
The audience was welcomed to the first-floor lobby at the end of the performance for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony of two fresh dance studios, named after founding board members and donors, aiming to increase School of Richmond Ballet students and Minds in Motion participants. After speeches from the nonprofit’s board, the Artistic Director, and Richmond’s mayor, three alumni from the School cut the ribbon, ushering in a new capacity for the historically-renovated building of Reynolds Metal Company. Alumni Ira White, Maggie Small, and Anthony Oates were the first among the crowd as Mayor Stoney followed just behind for the public unveiling.
Photos By: Sarah Ferguson
As The Richmond Dance Festival enters its fifth year, organizer and dance artist Jess Burgess took a quick break from her preparations to sit down with RVA Mag and highlight some of the best national and local artists performing in this year’s edition of the annual event.
The project of Manchester-based Dogtown Dance Theatre is a celebration of diversity and talent across multiple genres and disciplines. “I hope that every show offers something for everyone… even if the show has a piece you don’t like, it has two you do like,” said Burgess of the festival.
Burgess seeks to serve two audiences: Dance fans and local artists who need venues and performance spaces. She accomplishes that with a special free series, called the informal showcase. ”It’s open to anyone to submit any genre of art. We’ve had dancers, writers, poets, film artists show work.”
Including ballet, modern contemporary, hip hop and film works, the festival holds a variety of performance genres and talent here in Richmond. Featured companies include KARAR, Mamluft&Co, RADAR, and Agua Dulce. With all the national talent at this year’s festival, Burgess wanted to highlight the newer artists, saying they were shining just as brightly as the more well-known performers. “All the work in the Richmond Dance Festival this season, even the work that set on students is really smart,” she said. “And it’s cool to see Richmond have such a strong artistic voice alongside some of these national artists.”
For this weekend, RDF will feature a showcase from University of Richmond’s assistant dance professor, Alicia Diaz and her company Agua Dulce. Mamluft&Co, who Burgess calls an “insanely strong” modern dance company, stars in their own showcase as well. Alongside performances by Nina Simone and Eric Mullis, the English National Ballet will feature their film work directed by Jessica Wright. The final weekend show on May 11 & 12 will feature groups such as RADAR, Turning Key, KARAR and RVA Dance Collective with films by Nick Zoulek and Dylan Wilbur.
For the show on May 5, there will be a special matinee performance titled, RDF Next Generation. A brand new addition to the festival, the showcase will feature high school students having the chance to perform in a professional setting, something that Burgess hopes will help aspiring dance students. “They also get the opportunity to see Richmond Dance Festival, the professional performances that weekend as well,” she said. “I’m working with Appomattox Regional Governor’s School and they’re coming in the first weekend and I’m going to give them a tour of the building and talk about Arts Administration and other opportunities in the field for dancers and what you can do with a career, and they get to take a master class with one of the visiting artists and they perform in the second weekend.”
Although RDF is their big annual event, Burgess also wanted to point to the daily work at Dogtown as something to watch. “More and more I find I’m inspired by the artists that are coming in and out of this building as I progress in my career,” she said. “There’s just so many types of movement vocabulary out there and it’s cool to see them all have a home they can live in.”
On the 5th anniversary of the festival, Burgess said she was proud to see the ongoing growth both in the show and the talent. “It’s getting bigger every year, actually we increased the overall number of choreographers this year and got the additional funding for the Next Generation Performance,” she said. “So yeah, it’s definitely gaining traction and showcasing really cool work. It’s a mix of a lot of Richmond artists and then some national artists and then a lot of the film artists are international actually – the dance film that we’re showing. So, it’s a really cool show.”
This year, Richmond Dance Festival will showcase the work of 18 choreographers and nine film artists. The festival’s shows will continue to run on May 4-5 and 11-12 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
DJ Hoody killing the dancefloor at Little Saint one more time. Just when you thought it was safe to sit down you’re not gonna be able to resist The Call To Shake It. Drink specials all night, come hang out or get super loose. Or both.
The Trigger System/RVA Shows Presents!
THAT 1 GUY
With an extensive and amazing track record of unique and imaginative performances featuring his curious instrument and copious amounts of originality, Mike Silverman, a/k/a That1Guy, has set himself apart as a true one-of-a-kind talent that rivals any other artist currently in the entertainment industry. Averaging 150-200 shows a year all over North America and Canada, he has been a consistent favorite at such festivals as: Wakarusa, Electric Forest, Big Day out, All Good Music Festival, Bella, High Sierra Music
Festival, Summer Meltdown, Montreal Jazz Festival, and many more. He was also the ‘Tap Water Award’ winner at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for best musical act. His legendary collaboration and multiple tours with Buckethead performing as The Frankenstein Brothers has further cemented his virtuoso story as a creative visionary.
DATE: April 3
VENUE: The Camel
TIMES: Doors at 8 and show at 9
TICKETS: On sale now at www.richmondshows.com
Cover: $10 ADV / $12 DOS
Join THE FRITZ Fan Club!
The Fritz is a soul-driven dance rock band hailing from Asheville, NC. The group’s aggressive approach to funk, soul, and rock creates a sound that is uniquely their own. Their high-energy, danceable songs provide a platform for each member to shine. With powerful vocals, climactic solos, and tight grooves, The Fritz has built a devoted following and is captivating audiences everywhere.
Originally formed in the rehearsal spaces of University of North Florida’s School of Music, The Fritz discovered an immediate chemistry. Drawing on influences such as Prince, Talking Heads and Jimi Hendrix, the quintet integrated their diverse musical tastes and began writing music together.
With their college days behind them, the Fritz soon set their eyes on the mountains of Western North Carolina, eventually settling in Asheville in July 2011. After the release of their 2012 debut album, Bootstrap, the band launched into a near-constant touring schedule. With appearances at festivals such as Hulaween, Wakarusa, and Catskill Chill, the band quickly gained a reputation as a live act not to be missed.
The band’s 2017 release, Natural Mind, captures a sound that has been years in the making.
“We intentionally waited to go back into the studio so that we could really work on the music and figure out what makes this band special,” vocalist and keyboardist Jamar Woods said.
For the new album, The Fritz headed north to More Sound Studios in Syracuse, NY and enlisted the help of producer Dave Brandwein (Turkuaz, Galaxy Smith Studios) and engineers Jason “Jocko” Randall and Jose Varona to assist with the recording process.
“We wanted to work with a producer whose work we respected and who we trusted to add a different perspective,” percussionist Mikey “Spice” Evans said. “Dave played an invaluable role in producing our album.”
While most of the songs were written in the months leading up to recording, the studio environment allowed for some last minute additions and musical breakthroughs.
“We really wanted to arrange these songs specifically for the studio, which was both challenging and fun for us” guitarist Jamie Hendrickson said. “Now we’re very excited to get on the road and have these songs take on a life of their own.”
The band is now taking the album and their unforgettable live performances around the country with the Natural Mind tour.
Check out www.thefritzmusic.com for local tour dates near you.