Dogtown Dance Theatre Booming, Richmond’s Premiere Hub For Movement Arts
Photography by: Dave Parrish
Dogtown Dance Theatre, Richmond’s premiere hub for movement arts, is gearing up for an exciting summer of classes and performances. I recently had a chance to connect with owner, Rob Petres, hooper, Stacey Firefly, contemporary dance artist, Jess Burgess, and Richmond’s queen of burlesque, Deanna Danger about the theatre’s current offerings and what it has planned for the future.
Dogtown Dance Theatre, formerly The Bainbridge Gymnasium, is located in the historic Manchester district. The building is home to a large theatre space, a yoga studio, and dance studio, all three rentable to the public. The transformation from gym to arts mecca began in 2008. When asking Rob Petres if the space has become what he originally envisioned, he explained “the plan was to have a rehearsal space on the third floor, a theatre space on the second, and commercial offices on the first. The commercial spaces would help subsidize the cost of the building, allowing the theatre and studio to be rented at a competitive rate.”
Unfortunately the commercial business never came. What did transpire, however, was a need for dance/movement classes, rehearsal spaces, and performances areas. Before Dogtown, the only semi-reasonable rentals for artists were university related. Petres, being the great visionary he is, saw this as an opportunity and decided to transform the first floor into studio spaces as well. Currently, those studios host a number of classes in a variety of movement genres. You can belly dance with Illumination Dance Studio, praise dance with Kainos Dance, dance with Kevin LaMarr Jones in African Roots Community Dance, or learn the art of tease with Boom Boom Basics. And that’s just the first floor studios! The theatre space hosts aerial arts with Heather Bailey, hoop dance with Stacey Firefly, and modern dance classes with rva dance collective.
Jess Burgess, one of the artistic directors of local modern dance company, rva dance collective, actually began working with Dogtown Dance Theatre in 2011. Her marketing, organizational, and web design skills led to a barter system between the two organizations. Burgess explains “since we are trading my services for rehearsal space, rva dance collective is able to offer free technique classes to the community.” Currently the rva dance collective hosts a free intermediate to advanced level modern technique class on Sunday mornings.
The ability to offer a diversity of classes in top-notch studios has even helped put an entire genre on the map. Boom Boom Basics instructor and recently voted “Best Burlesque Performer” in Richmond, Deanna Danger, affirmed that “being able to teach in a true dance classroom atmosphere has helped the burlesque scene in Richmond immensely. We have a big beautiful ballet barre for my ballet classes, proper flooring for my tap classes, and mirrors so students can refine themselves easier.”
Additionally, the theatre itself is becoming well known on the East Coast. Dogtown Dance Theatre has become a tour stop for dance companies and aerial arts groups from all over. The theatre is the only registered aerial location in Virginia. This brings an array of unique performances to Richmond. Earlier this month North Carolina aerial dance company, Caroline Calouche & CO., held a workshop in the theatre.
So what’s next for Dogtown? Stacey Firefly, hoop dance diva and the theatre’s coordinator and go to girl for collaboration, is excited about the future of the space. “We are hoping to start an arts integrated after school program and potentially create an event with Grow RVA.” Both collaborations will focus on the Manchester community, home to the theatre and Firefly. “We are very community driven. Celebrating and supporting the Manchester community is part of our mission”.
If you have not had a chance to step inside Dogtown Dance Theatre, do yourself a favor and check out this beautiful and inspiring space.
Go see a show! Take a class! Support your local arts community!
Dogtown Dance Theatre will host the Virginia Burlesque and Sideshow Festival on June 1, 2013 at 8:00pm and 10:30pm. Tickets are $15 per show or $25 for both performances.
To learn more about the theatre, classes offered, rentals, and performances, please visit www.dogtondancetheatre.com
Rebecca A. Ferrell, a native of Richmond, Virginia, is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She is currently the artistic director of FDANCE, a project dedicated to her work as an intervention dance artist. Rebecca holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. She is currently adjunct faculty at VCU Dance and is in charge of dance curriculum at John Tyler Community College. When she is not dancing, Rebecca is making cupcakes, breaking hearts, and obsessing over the color pink.
Billy Christopher Maupin (or B.C. to anyone who knows him) is a man of the theatre. He is an award winning theatrical director, an accomplished actor and a gifted singer of songs. Like many gifted artists, his artistic inspiration is based upon a personal life that largely resembles a roller coaster. As a single, 35-year-old [...]August 9, 2016
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