It was quite the honor to be asked back to work with Binford Dance company two years in a row! If you had the opportunity to meet the dancers from our first year’s feature..check it out HERE! Over the past three years we have enjoyed telling stories of professional dancers in our community and as we grow this year we will open nominations up to all ages and dancers in all levels of their dance journeys!
The Binford Dance Company was established in 2016. It is an audition based student dance company from Binford Middle School, an arts integrated school located in Richmond, VA. Company members study Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Improvisation, and Composition within the Binford dance program. The company has performed throughout the community including: The 2019 Superintendent’s State of the Schools Address, Generation Dream, Richmond Public School’s Fine Arts Festival, Strawberry Street Festival, Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology, Petersburg Home for Ladies, and Cedarfield Retirement Community. The company also had the opportunity to collaborate with the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) students to perform in the Jason Mraz music video “Have It All.” The Binford Dance Company inspires students to find their own voice through performance and choreography while learning valuable skills in the rehearsal process including collaboration, respect, and confidence.
Binford Middle School serves students in grades sixth through eighth from across the city. Our students come to us each day to learn what all middle schoolers need to know but they have a unique opportunity to learn in a different way. At Binford teaching and learning takes form through and with the arts whenever possible. Our teachers design lessons that allow for the exploration of their content area, such as math and pair it with an art form like dance, which makes learning fun and meaningful. When the math class gets to come to the dance studio to explore number relationships they get to involve their whole body. They get to learn vocabulary and skills in a new way which makes the learning stick.
Because of our work to use arts integration to transform the learning experiences for our children we have been lucky to be included within the Turnaround Arts: Richmond program, a program of Richmond Public Schools, in partnership with the Kennedy Center. Binford belongs to a network of Turnaround Arts schools across the country that is using the arts to improve student learning, as part of a national program along with other federal and private partners. As a Turnaround Arts school we prioritize the arts and value the many ways it can truly turn around a school.
We are tremendously fortunate to have an expert dance instructor in Lisa Perkinson. She founded the dance program in 2015 which was the first year of our arts integrated mission. In a short amount of time she has been able to establish a reputation for excellence with and among the dance students. Children who like dance but never had formal dance training are able to work with someone who can create a safe space for them to work alongside someone who’s been dancing all their lives. The power of dance is that it truly can be for every child to express every emotion and connect to every subject. Lisa embodies that power and shares it greatly with our school and community.
-Melissa Rickey, Binford Principal
Now let’s meet the 2019 Binford Dance Company!
“I’ve danced all my life, and I’ve tried many different styles, but choreographing my own pieces is by far my favorite part of dance. Thinking of a concept and following through with it puts my mind to work. When it all comes together, it warms my heart and inspires me to work with other dancers to see how we can work together to make beautiful, wonderful, inspiring art.”
KYLIE, 8th GRADE
“Hi! My name is Vilma. Dance and choreography have been a big part of my life for a very long time. For me, dance and choreography are both the way I express myself in real life or my dance life. You see, I have a hard time showing my emotions, but in dance, if I have an emotion and a good song, I’ll express myself as much as I can. Choreography also helps me express myself but in a different kind of way. “
VILMA, 8th Grade
“I love to create and choreograph dances, just because of the expression. I think everybody should have a way of expressing themselves without having to say their feelings outright. It is so amazing to be able to take a story, an interaction, or even a snippet of an emotion and turn it into tangible art. Being able to have people watch and relate to your story is a wonderful feeling and that’s why I love to perform and create dance.”
EMMA, 8th GRADE
“Dance, for me, is a way to express myself. It’s a beautiful way to tell a story. It started as a hobby but transformed into something very special. I fell in love with it. Being a dancer has brought me so many opportunities, such as the Binford Dance Company. It is my last year at Binford and, though I’m sad to leave, I wouldn’t change anything. My experiences here have inspired me to do so much more in High School. To me, dance is a gift for the audience, the performers, and the future. “
“Dance is a way for me to interpret my feelings and my life in an expressible way. I feel that dance brings an inner light inside of people and they can move freely, even if it is just their arms. Dance is an artform that cannot be replaced. Dance is choreographing movements in space to a piece of music. It feels amazing to choreograph a dance and bring your thoughts and dreams to life. I started dancing when I was very little and I just haven’t stopped. I now know who I am, I am me.”
ISABELLE, 7th GRADE
“To me, choreographing means expressing myself through movement. I feel that I can express myself the best when I am creating and exploring new movement. I like the ability to be free and to put whatever style or feeling into my dance. I think the best part about creating a dance based on feelings is that multiple emotions can be combined in one piece. Dance can also express a multitude of other things. Dance can show a story, a poem, a feeling, or even just a rendering of a song. All in all, choreographing is a huge part of dance and I am grateful to have learned the skill.”
CASEY, 8th GRADE
“Dance is movement, a way to express yourself not just by moving your body, but also by moving your heart. When I think about it, it doesn’t just move your heart, it also moves other people’s hearts. To know that when I dance I move other people’s hearts makes me feel like I’m inspirational. When you give that inspiration, it makes me want to keep going, no matter what gets in my way. That is why I love dance and I always will.”
Millena, 8th grade
“Creating movement, in general, has always been an outlook for me. Whether I’m dancing around my room or setting choreography that eventually will be performed on stage, I always put my heart and soul into it. I’ve been dancing since I was just a little girl. Maybe it was the way it made me feel or the look on my parents' faces when I had my first recital, but something resonated with me. Here I am, nine years later, and still taking every opportunity I can get to perfect my craft. I’ve done it all, from ballet to hip-hop. I’ve always been open to trying any styles. I think it makes me more well rounded as a dancer. Although I’m open to everything, I feel I can express my emotions best through modern dance. My passion lies in the versatility of the style. The still moments and the intricate moments work together to create a piece that’s both dynamic and pleasing to the eye. When I create movement that checks all these boxes, I’m always happy! Dance is a craft that no matter where you are, the audience or on stage, it can make you feel emotions like no other. What else do you need in life?”
GIA, 7th Grade
"For a long time in a dance studio, I was known as the student and not the teacher. In my company outside of school, I was never the person to step up to the plate - until in my dance elective at Binford when I was handed tasks. For example, I was asked to lead warm-ups or make dances. In the Binford Dance Company, I had the biggest task of all. I choreographed a lovely trio that I got to showcase and that’s why I love dancing.”
SYDNEE, 7th GRADE
"I love making choreography because it takes dance and sets it to a story, topic, or an emotion and brings it to life. When I choreograph a dance, I think about what I want the audience to feel and what I want them to take from the performance. After doing that, I find a song (instrumental or lyric) and think about movement to go with the song. I also like how choreography has layers. There are metaphors and symbols that give the dance more meaning to both the audience and the dancer. Watching choreography has definitely made a positive impact on me and has inspired me in several ways. Choreography is important because it is a way to send a message and change people’s lives.”
Zoe, 7th Grade
I remember I started dance at five or seven-years-old with my first ballet class. My teacher, Ms. Carrie, at Chesterfield Dance Center, always pushed me to my limits and encouraged me. I found a way to express my feelings, and being a shy kid, that was hard to do. I then branched out to Minds In Motion which showed me a whole new style. After getting into Team XL and trying out for Team XXL, I took two years off from dance. I had lost that “spark,” the thing I could express myself with when I was feeling mad or sad. One day last summer I decided I wanted to try out dance again. My mom suggested so many places, but I had set my heart out on finding one on my own. After a few days, I found Grace Arts. I started out with advanced ballet and dance technique in the summer. To my surprise, at the end of summer, Ms. Faith, owner of Grace Arts, asked me to be a part of the junior competition team. I was thrilled! After all of my hard work, which included leaping through my house, stubbing my toe (too many times to count), and practicing my tumbling outside. I was noticed. Fast forward and I am celebrating the end of recitals with my teammates who have grown into friends, and I’ve found my “spark” again. So what does dance, more specifically, choreography, mean to me? I love to choreograph and see my visions come to life, or maybe it doesn’t work out, and I have a whole new outcome I couldn’t have even imagined. I love to interpret choreography in my own way and see how my interpretation differs from others. Dance is an art form, of course, but there is no one definition. Everyone has a different interpretation and mine is that it’s an expression, a way to speak.
-KAMINI, 6th GRADE
“Choreography is vital in dance. Without it, dance would not be able to be expressed. To me, choreography is like a language dancers use to express themselves. Whenever I watch a dance I am able to tell if it was truly from the heart. Spoken languages are often hard to use when expressing one's feelings because you have to choose from words that are laid out for you and often these words don’t fit the way you want them to. However, in dance and choreography, you simply move to the rhythm of your heart. You don’t have to choose from a list of words with confusing meanings. You simply dance. That’s why I like choreography, you get to create your own language in which you are expressing yourself.”
SCARLETT, 7TH GRADE
“I started dancing when I was eight-years-old. It was scary, and I was very shy. I was also not very flexible, but I worked hard and here I am now, going to Binford Middle School in the Binford Dance Company. I’m proud that I have improved so much. Dancing really helps me get in a better mood. Whenever I’m sad or mad, I turn on the radio and just improvise. I do what my body feels. Sometimes I pretend I’m on a stage with big bright lights and everybody is just screaming my name. That’s how I feel about dance.”
PIPER, 6TH GRADE