Dancers of RVA Project:
I want to first off thank Katrina Boone for introducing her love of photography, passion for dancers and joy of storytelling to the Richmond community. I have grown up in Richmond, VA all of my life, so when I heard about Katrina’s concept and Dancers of RVA, I was utterly obsessed with the idea and of course, wanted to support not only this beautiful city but also our passions for dance.
To all of Katrina’s readers, 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.”
When I was 3 years old, my parents told me that I would use the handle of our kitchen oven as a ballet barre. They shared that when I was a little girl, I would hold onto this “ballet barre” and I would point my toe back to front and bounce along to every beat of the music. When it came to dance, my imagination supposedly ran wild. I would leap around the house and make up my own dances. My mom said I had this natural ability to hold a rhythm in a way unlike most children. And she began to soon realize that dance would be a significant part of my future.
So as I grew through my toddler years, I had a natural drawing to dance but at that point had never taken one class. But, I of course, was more ready than ever to start. So my mom drove me to Ellman’s in Carytown, and together, we picked out my first set of ballet and jazz shoes. Not to mention the black and pink leotards with the matching tutus…☺
Starting out, I took a wide range of dance classes. From ballet to jazz, hip-hop, tap, etc. I loved them all. For several years, I took studio classes to help build my technique and determine which genre I liked best. Overtime, I enjoyed going to these studios, but I realized I hadn’t really found my true niche with dance yet. I actually remember taking a break for a while to see if I would excel in a sport or another activity. As all children do, I signed up for a variety of after-school programs to see what else I had a natural talent in. And during this time, while I tried out for the “team” sports, I was never drawn to anything else I really loved as much as dance. So in 5th grade, I auditioned for my school’s Dance Company, called La Petite Joni, at St. Catherine’s. That’s when I knew I had made the right decision to go back and dance. Joining this program was the pivotal point in my growth as a dancer. My teacher, Kendall Neely, turned my love for dance into a passion. She helped me grow my technique, choreography and ultimately made me realize that I had a natural talent to move and perform. I started becoming an active member of this dance company from that point forward. I started dancing almost every day. Overtime, I realized I was really growing my skills and ability as a dancer and choreographer. It had become a life journey that I was excited to explore and see how far I could go. Overtime, while I continued to dance in the company, I also was accepted in the Governor’s School Summer program, I participated in professional dance company intensives and choreographed and performed my own pieces every year. By high school, I knew I wanted to pursue dance in some form but also was hesitant about making this passion into a career. I did not want to limit myself to just this career path. I was also worried that if I began dancing too much, it would become a burden. So as I entered college, I went on to minor in Dance at Elon University. And following graduation, I moved back to Richmond in 2014, and have been a part of a Richmond based company called R.A.D.A.R, Richmond Area Dance Artists Redefined. R.A.D.A.R is a contemporary and modern based company with several talented performers and educators in the Richmond area. It is a privilege to dance in this collective, as we all share an equal passion for dance and enjoy the collaborative process of working with each other to choreograph and perform each other’s movement. I always am appreciative of the new innovative ideas, choreography and an environment that allows us to challenge each other and grow together.
We never stop growing as dancers. While I never made dance into a full-time career, (although sometimes I wish I had), I am confident that dance will never escape me. I’ve come to clearly realize that it is a part of who I am, and for that, I am grateful.