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Talking Dance

The upcoming dance season offers artful forms of exchange as well as the inaugural RVA Dance Awards at the Hof.

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A compelling dance performance contains many conversations. These are between dancers and audience, of course, but also between dancers and music, choreographer and lighting designer, even between a dancer and the floor on which they move.

A performance also might converse between dance forms, between cultures and histories, between past and present.

Given all this, the fall dance season offers many great chances to talk.

September opens with "Rendezvous: a Meeting of 3 Choreographers," on Sept. 6 at Grace Street Theater, a conversation of work by emerging artists Callie Moore, Jelani Taylor and Robert Rubama, all of whom graduated from Virginia college dance programs in the last few years, determined to create and share new work.

The weekend of Sept. 20-22 brings more locally grown new work to Grace Street Theater by a long-established Richmond company, Starr Foster Dance. And down the street at Virginia Commonwealth University's Institute for Contemporary Art, another recent college dance graduate, Christine Wyatt, offers "Affirmative Reactions," a multimedia performance created in response to artist Rashid Johnson's "Monument," Sept. 20-21.

The Modlin Center for the Arts reliably presents great dance by nationally or internationally known artists whose work offers contemporary perspectives that help to shape the field. On Sept. 27, Modlin presents Camille A. Brown and Dancers, whose tag line, "making a claim on history through the lens of a modern black female choreographer," says it all. This performance offers highlights from Brown's critically acclaimed African-American identity trilogy, including the award-winning "Mr. TOL E. RAncE, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play," and "Ink." Don't miss it.

You can balance out your discussion of ultracontemporary dance culture with some contemporary classics from the Richmond Ballet, Sept. 27-29. The program offers George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" (1947) and John Butler's "Carmina Burana" (1959).

Moving into October, the conversation shifts to connect history to the present with the Martha Graham Dance Company's "The Eve Project" at Modlin on Oct. 10 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the vote. The project presents Graham classics and new work by renowned female choreographers Pam Tanowitz, Maxine Doyle and Bobbi Jene Smith.

Join the dance conversation more directly Oct. 11-12, when the Institute for Contemporary Art says a final farewell to Rashid Johnson's "Monument" by holding a participatory community dance event and closing ceremony led by Afro Beta, which blends traditional drumming with Detroit techno, Chicago house music and diverse rhythms of the African diaspora.

Now in its eighth year as a home and hub for local dance artists to practice, talk and make, Dogtown Dance Theatre presents locally grown Karar Dance Company's premiere of an evening-length work, "Circadian," in the Presenters' Series, Oct. 18-26. Also late in the month, Richmond's beloved Latin Ballet of Virginia presents its annual "El Dia de los Muertos" celebration, Oct. 21-25, at multiple venues.

The week of Nov. 5-10 returns us to the ballet conversation through Richmond Ballet's Studio Series, designed to bring audiences closer to the work in an intimate studio theater setting, with pre-performance video interviews with choreographers. Studio 1 includes a premiere by Ma Cong, who has created several works for the ballet, and "Ancient Airs and Dances," by the company's artistic director, Stoner Winslett.

The inaugural RVA Dance Awards offers a new and exciting entry to the dance conversation in Richmond. Nominations in 18 categories, including best dance company, best choreography, dancer of the year, and lifetime achievement are currently live at rvadanceawards.com, and a panel of judges — I'm one of them — will make determinations for presentation at the awards ceremony Dec. 11 at the Hofheimer Building.

Round out your season as always with Richmond Ballet's classic "Nutcracker" Dec. 13-23, or the "Hip-Hop Nutcracker" on Dec. 26, billed as a "contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky's timeless music" at Altria Theater — a great conversation between classical and contemporary at the end of Richmond's 2019.

Back the the Fall Arts Preview

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