Dogtown Dance Theatre seeking submissions for 2017 Richmond Dance Festival
The annual Richmond Dance Festival is a three-weekend event, held between April 21 and May 6 this year, which highlights live dance performances, live musicians, and screens the work of film dance artists.
Photo by Dave Parrish Photography
Jess Burgess, Artistic and Executive Director at Dogtown, emphasizes that it’s the theater’s goal to give a platform to as many different dancers and styles as possible, both for in-house and guest performers.
“We have nine different companies in house here at Dogtown,” said Burgess. “They range from modern, to African, African Caribbean, Latin, bellydance, pole dancing, aerial work, hoop dancing, so you name it, Dogtown’s got it. And what I think what that’s done to the Richmond dance scene in general and to Richmond dance audiences is just open their eyes that dance doesn’t have a prescribed definition to it.”
The three-weekend span of the event gives plenty of time for audiences to attend their pick of performance times. In addition to performing, visiting artists teach classes during their stay, so Richmonders can have the opportunity to learn from the dancers coming into their community.
“Each of the weekends is different, as well, so weekend one you’re gonna see six to seven dance artists, four to five dance film artists,” said Burgess. “But weekend two is a whole new group of artists that are coming, weekend three, same thing- whole new group of artists.”
The Richmond Dance Festival has an open submission process, meaning that anyone who wants to perform can check out the guidelines, criteria, and forms on Dogtown’s website and submit their performance for review. The submissions are evaluated by three dance professionals from the local community.
“We’re looking for something that a dance artist or a dance film artist really jumps at, and takes the risk in making something that’s unique and theirs and gives a voice to what dance is and can be,” she said.
Chad Brown, Technical Director at Dogtown, emphasized that the Richmond Dance Festival is a platform for some of the most expressive dance that Richmond has to offer.
“Our mission is all about diversity and engaging all kinds of people and that’s truly what we’re looking for, just to see art that’s gonna spark a conversation,” he said. “Whether it’s gonna be hilarious, something you wanna tell your friends about later, or something dark and personal that makes you think and take a step back. So it’s really just about engagement.”
Brown earned his technical expertise as a film student at VCU and didn’t have any particular background in dance. Joining Dogtown, then, was his first real exposure to the dance community in Richmond, and he found a whole world that he didn’t know existed.
“So with that outsider’s perspective, RDF is kind of the way to get involved with it,” he said. “Even if you don’t like some high art hoity-toity piece that’s happening, the next one is gonna engage you… You’re gonna see something that you enjoy cause it’s such a cornucopia of just every kind of performance art in one night.”
Providing that kind of platform for artists isn’t easy. Performing art can be expensive and difficult for the artist, but Dogtown does everything it can to provide the space, crew, and coordination performers need.
“Artists that are in RDF, they come here, they need some rehearsal time, they are free to go in there without a dime,” said Burgess. “They wanna come up with some kind of crazy gridding system, for maybe some elastics that they wanna work with or things across the stage, yeah, we’re coming in here, we’re helping them do that too.”
For music, dance artists are free to do as they see fit, whether they coordinate with musicians that they know or bring their own pre-recorded music. Burgess says that Dogtown Theatre itself sometimes helps to coordinate between musicians that they know and performing artists. “Last festival, Claves Unidos had, what, eight nine drummers, a singer, and a live spoken artist, all during the dance performance,” she said. “They collaborated and met here at Dogtown.”
“You’re guaranteed to see something that is unique to Richmond, unique to this community, and being born, grown, and happening here in Manchester,” said Burgess. “And then to have the support of the community, see that, and then the workshops, and the performances- the audience doesn’t just get a dance show, they get to be wrapped in that immersive experience that is this Dogtown community.”
The submission deadline for artists applying to participate in Dogtown Dance Theatre’s 2017 Richmond Dance Festival is January 30, and artists will be notified by February 15. The festival itself will be held on the weekends between April 21 and May 6. All submission guidelines and information can be found here.
Top image credit: Mike Keeling
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