Arts & Events » Dance

Getting in Step

Several events this fall allow close contact with local dance companies.


Maybe dance performances were a regular component of your entertainment diet, but it’s been hard to work them back in as the arts world restructures post-pandemic. Or maybe you’ve been a fan of the big name traditional troupes, like Richmond Ballet, but you’re looking to expand your palette and explore the full variety of the local dance scene.

Whatever your personal relationship to dance is, the fall 2023 season provides several unique opportunities to either acquaint or reacquaint yourself to what’s moving on Richmond’s stages.

I’m personally most excited about Karar Dance Company’s “Informal” scheduled for two performances on Oct. 7 at the Gottwald Playhouse. This modern company broke the fast of the pandemic lockdown with this concept in 2022 and it seems like it may be turning into a perennial event. Karar calls it “dance in its purest form,” meaning no lights and no costumes and a generally relaxed attitude about what’s happening on stage. The performances include opportunities for dialogue, feedback and questions as the company tries out new works, including originals created by its Young Dancer Mentorship choreographers.

Karar Dance Company’s “Informal” scheduled for two performances on Oct. 7 at the Gottwald Playhouse. - COURTESY OF STARR FOSTER DANCE
  • Courtesy of Starr Foster Dance
  • Karar Dance Company’s “Informal” scheduled for two performances on Oct. 7 at the Gottwald Playhouse.

For those intimidated by dance, “informal” could be the gateway you’ve been waiting for.

The Latin Ballet of Virginia (LBV) has always excelled at bringing its energetic rhythms to easily accessible locations, perfect for getting newbies interested. This fall, the company will show up in three different locales with an exciting variety of programs.

First off, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will play host to LBV for a celebration of the culture of Colombia called “Macondo” on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The performances will feature excerpts from a longer work, an interpretation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s epic novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

In October, the company will venture down to Swift Creek Mill Theatre in Colonial Heights for a family-friendly series of dance-theater performances titled “Alma Latina (or Latin Soul).” The production promises not just an explosion of dance styles - salsa, mambo, tango, etc. - but also an opportunity to explore the cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean.

I’ve caught the LBV “Dia de los Muertos” celebration a couple times in the past, so I know that the festive event provides a grounding counterpoint to the consumerist madness of Halloween. The company will bring the production to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this year for a series of performances on Oct. 28.

For those looking for experiments at the fringes of the dance world, the Modlin Center at University of Richmond consistently books fascinating out-of-town acts for local consumption. On Oct. 18, Tokyo’s Sankai Juku will present “KŌSA — between two mirrors,” a highly theatrical explication of anxiety and catharsis. Clips of the production promise a meditative, sometimes stark and visceral show.

Of course, the big kahuna in town, Richmond Ballet, has some fun in store for the fall (see sidebar).

If you want to get primed for good times planned for winter climes, Starr Foster Dance will be offering a season preview on Oct. 14 in the open-air pavilion of the Byrd Park Pump House. Attendees will be able to meet the company and get glimpses of the full slate of pieces planned for their residency at the Firehouse Theater from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.

It’s another perfect event for bringing the sometimes austere technicality and hyper-athletic prowess of dance down to the level of schlubs like you and me.