When I try to reflect on my dance journey, it is hard for me to remember a time that I have existed without dance in my life. Dance is and has always been innately a part of me and who I am.
Growing up in the arts-enriched city of Columbia, Maryland, I began taking Ballet when I was three. I loved my blue leotard, blue tutu, and the buns in my hair, but I did not love the rules and rigidity that came with the art form. I moved onto gymnastics, which I loved, but when a friends mom told my mom about Marilyn Byers and the Dance Dimension, a soley Modern Dance company, we decided to give it a try. I was in the second grade and I remember the Saturday morning of my first Modern Dance class with Marilyn. I never looked back. I danced with the Dance Dimension from second grade until I graduated high school. From playing “The Number Game” to “Kick Up, Kick Up, turn around” and dancing in the ‘Rain Dance’, ‘Sea Dreams’, ‘Crash Landing’, ‘Tom O’Bedlam’, and ‘Silk’ (just to name a few of many), to traveling to NYC, Spain, and France to perform, I gained an incredible foundationof dance technique and a firm understanding of the artstry and power of Modern Dance.
I auditioned for the dance program at James Madison University and was accepted into the major. My four years as a dance major at JMU were awesome. I learned from a talented dance faculty and gained my first teaching experience as the co-director of the freshman dance company. I loved every moment of my time at JMU, and I grew as a dancer and as a person.
With graduation nearing in the spring of ‘99, I decided that RVA would be the next step in my journey. My ‘fairy godmother’ and fellow JMU dance major grad, Kendall Baltimore Neely, who began teaching dance at St. Catherines, had moved to Richmond a year earlier and connected me with the Richmond dance scene. I accepted a position at the Village Dance Studio and auditioned for Starr Foster Dance Project.
Gaining much knowledge of the dance studio scene, I decided that my heart was and will always be with Modern Dance. I began writing letters to Joan Oates, an influential arts proponent and member of the board of trustees, and Keith Evans, the headmaster at the Collegiate School, and the rest is history. I began a pilot program at Collegiate in the spring of 2001 and was hired to officially start the dance program in the fall. Seventeen years later, Collegiate has two full-time dance teachers, with two beautiful dance studios, and over two hundred dancers. I feel lucky everyday of my life for my livelihood.
Performance-wise, I spent five seasons with Starr Foster Dance Project, where I performed incredible pieces and felt proud to be part of something so influential. I began dancing with Tara Mullins (another JMU dance grad) and her new company, Z Mullins Dance, in 2005. When Tara and her family moved away from Richmond, RADAR was formed by the remaining Z Mullins dancers. I have been dancing in RADAR since 2011 and I love each and every moment of being in a collaborative company with such strong, vibrant, and loving people.
I was married in 2008, we had our son in 2010, and our daughter in 2013. A lot has changed in my personal life, but dance has been a constant. I am forty years old and have many years of dance ahead of me. This artform has made me who I am.
Why I chose Carytown:
When I moved to Richmond in the summer of ‘99, I lived with my best friends near the corner of the Boulevard and Cary St. We were in Carytown constantly, and I loved going to the Byrd Theater. That is why the Byrd was so appealing to me for this photoshoot. The dramatic and art-deco decor is the perfect atmosphere for a dancer to gain inspiration.
Few fun notes:
A very special thank you to Todd and Damion at the Byrd Theatre for being so hospitable for our session! Seriously, thank SO much guys!
And a special hello to my new friend Bill who jumped into one of our pictures, I wanted to share it with you because Bill is a cool guy and it's nice to meet people on the streets! I am kind of bummed the picture is out of focus, but still wanted to share! I'm enjoying all my doRVA photo bombers these days ;)