Meet the dancers
“I know that no matter what I do, dance will always be a part of me, affecting the way I think, feel, and experience. Everyone has a groove somewhere within them. Our stories are in the way we carry our vessels, the way we interact with others, with the soul of the world. That’s all I’m really here to do anyways.” - Taylor-Leigh , The BRAND
“We have dancers of many different backgrounds, such as popping, breaking, contemporary, housing, locking, jazz, salsa and so on. Among the group, pretty much everyone is a hybrid of different dance styles, having experience in multiple forms. While much of The Brand’s time is spent dancing socially and inviting other party-goers to join in, we set aside time to train on our own to share our knowledge and skills with one another, and explore our creativity. “
I don't know if I have ever shared with you how this project really began. I know I have always shared the story of doRVA's birth with all my dancers, but never with all of you. Well, if you don't mind sticking with me, I would like to share.
“When I dance, nothing else exists; I am able to leave the whole world behind me. Dancing heals my soul.”
My dance journey began like many others. I begged my Mom to sign me up for a local ballet class. I wore the leotard and tights around the house for weeks, months, maybe even years but I never did get into the class. I remember asking my Mom years later and she said she tried but the class was full. Meanwhile, I never lost my desire to dance. I explored moving on my own. I would dance in front of mirrors and make up routines with friends. I would watch Madonna on MTV and try to mimic her moves.
“My story with dance seems to be one that has had an unlikely path. For a girl that received her formal dance training through a parks and recreation program, obtained an accounting degree and became a CPA, found purpose through the challenges of life, and is now leading a vision to give God glory through all of the arts . . . the one thing that I can say with assurance about my journey is that it is one of destiny. This is the path that I was always supposed to be on. It’s the path that God created just for me. I’m humbled daily and forever grateful for all the moments that God had me in “the right place, at the right time”. I look forward to this next season, just to see what God will do.”
“There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them”
“It all began when I was four years old and my mom took me to the ballet to see Richmond Ballets “The Nutcracker.” I was mesmerized by the movement, the colors, the characters, the lights, but most of all I was in awe of the ballerinas on pointe. I wanted to go up on my toes like that and float across stage as all the dancers did.”
“Dogtown is everything to me. Watching the tremendous growth we’ve seen over the last three years since I became Director, I have truly come alive. The same ferocity of spirit that got me through the car accident filled inside of me, and I knew I was going to do whatever it took to make Dogtown successful, and something amazing for the dance artists in this community. Now, we have a year-round program dedicated to providing RVA artists with the resources they need to be successful. And everytime I see a new instructor fill a workshop, or a young company shine on the mainstage at Dogtown, I see my future. I know that even when that expiration date does hit, I will always be able to dance. Dogtown, and the artists that fill that space with so much love, energy, and spirit, will keep me dancing forever.”
“Choreography is magical because in each moment a dance is revealing itself to you.
I am a deep thinker and choreography allows me to reveal my intrinsic thoughts and feelings through abstract expression. My work is not obvious in its content. You may not know exactly what the subject matter is but I like it that way. It challenges you to think beyond the obvious. You have to dig deeper and develop your own understanding. You relate to it in your own way based on your own life experiences.”
You must create your own path, tell your own story, make your own mistakes, and learn your own lessons. You are an individual, with a heart, a soul, a brain, and you must fight for what you want. Allow others to help you, influence you (positively), inspire you, support you. Strive to be a well rounded dancer, it will benefit you in the long run.
There are so many more stories to be told, voices to be heard, and work to be done when we challenge our own definition of ‘dancer’ to include anyone with a moving body and something to say or feel. I think the whole field needs to widen its lens and endeavor to be a bit more inclusive in order to truly allow dance and the arts to be transformative forces in our communities.
Dance was the only thing I was able to count on to support me mentally and emotionally. I live my life not for myself, but for my family and family only. Dance is one of the things that allows me to have a reason to live my life for myself. Since I discovered this, my bond with dance has only become stronger and still continues to grow up to this very day. Whether I become well known or not is completely irrelevant to me. From now until the day my body can no longer move, it will forever be just me and the music.
"As dancers, the impulse to be in motion is strong. Whipping up shapes, slicing through space, stirring the air around us, we know that the capacity for movement is endless. After all, our entire planet is in constant motion, rotating around its axis in a perpetual dance with itself."
Meet IMPETUS by RADAR
Dance is among the most primal experiences encountered as humans. Movement, however pedestrian in nature, transcends cultural barriers and creates a language, raw and paramount in character. The simple movement of a hand, or step in a direction surpasses superficial meaning and dives into the essence of the human experience. An experience so relatable that it can be understood by varying cultures around the world. With history instilled by generations of our ancestors, these movements bare weight sometimes larger than word. Creating a vocabulary of emotion and aesthetic, through dance. A vocabulary that knows no bounds, and is always pushing towards new meaning. This is how dancers communicate. This is how I communicate.
"Through dance I began to find myself. Dance helped me build an identity for myself breaking all the stereotypes being forced upon me. Dance taught me self- discipline, commitment, and determination. Dance defines my existence as an artist."
When Shannon shared that STAVNA was going to perform Snow White this season, we immediately had a vision of a shoot in the snow! Thankfully mother nature liked this idea too and we were able to catch up with former doRVA Morgan and get to meet her prince Devin who will soon be featured on doRVA! So, for now, I'd love to share Meet Snow White & Her Prince who will be performing in STAVNA's Snow White.
I most importantly want you to know that, as dancers, we all spread our message and our story because, like all artists, dance makes us feel alive. It makes us present and it allows our creative thoughts to wander from our minds. We dance because we want to continuously spread its beauty, its connectivity and physicality. And what’s special about dance as its own art form, is that all you need is a floor under your feet and a mindset to move. I’ve been thankful to have this feeling all my life, so I’m excited to share my pathway and own growth as a “Dancer of RVA.”