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April 28-30, 2023

Virginia Black Dance Festival Logo



Thank you to the amazing performers, panelists and instructors from VBDF 2022!

Kevin Lamar Jones
Julinda Lewis
Johnnie Cruise Mercer
Missy Moore
Richmond City Dance Theatre
Tribal Unicorn

Claves Unidos
MK Abadoo
Dr. Benita Brown
Deandra Clark
Salsa Connection Dance Company
April Lamar
Denise Richards
Sankofa Dance Theatre

Registration Is Open!!!


April 28-30, 2023


Appomattox Regional Governor's School
Virginia State University



Virginia Black Dance Festival provides community building and networking opportunities for members of the Black, Indigenous, and Afro Latina dance community in Virginia. With workshops and performances that highlight the diversity of dance genres cultivated as part of Black Dance culture in the diaspora, it honors the traditions of multigenerational dance performance and practice. Virginia Black Dance Festival accomplishes this through workshops, panel discussions, professional workshops as well as juried, showcase performances.


MK Abadoo headshot for Virginia Black Dance Festival VBDF Faculty

MK Abadoo

Workshop Facilitator

Community Building within Creative Practice

MK Adadoo, considered a "rising star" by Dance Magazine, crafts dance events that combine Africanist and post-modern movement vocabularies with site activating audience and community engagement. Their creative practice is rooted in the justice work of Gesel Mason Performance Projects, Angela's Pulse, Urban Bush Women, and the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Abadoo is an assistant professor in the Department of Dance + Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and in the Racial Equity, Arts, and Culture Core of VCU's ICubed, the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry & Innovation.  

Kevin LaMarr Jones headsot by Elli Morris for Virginia Black Dance Festival VBDF

Kevin LaMarr Jones

Dance Faculty

African Roots Reunion

Beyond the social barriers of race, religion, gender, and geography, Kevin LaMarr Jones professes that dance and music have the ability to unite the world. Since graduating from the University of Richmond with a B.S. in Business Administration and Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography, Jones has become a graphic designer, dancer, choreographer, and producer based in Richmond, Virginia. His dance portfolio includes work with the Latin Ballet of Virginia as a professional company member, in addition to founding, CLAVES UNIDOS, a community-based dance company and academy which connects Richmond, Virginia to the world and gathers its residents around dances of the African diaspora. The centerpiece of this work is a weekly community dance class on Saturday mornings that he has led since 2011 called African Root Reunion.
Mr. Jones has been cultivating his own Pan-African dance style since the mid 1990s when as a Senior at UR, he was introduced to and became a permanent fan of the music of, salsa band, Bio Ritmo. Jones studied traditional West African dance with Sister Faye Walker and Judy Lynn Edwards. He discovered a passion for flamenco through teachers like with Ana Ines King, Anna Menendez and Antonio Hidalgo Paz as well as many other master flamenco teachers during his travels to New York, Washington DC, Jerez de la Frontera, Madrid and Seville. He has studied Afro-Cuban dances with Ifé Michelle Milligan, Alberto Limonta Perez and various other master teachers in workshops between Miami, New York and Barcelona. He has studied salsa and partner dancing with various artists including Edwin Roa, Steve Greene and Yamil Boo. In 2006 & 2007 he delved into community engagement through the arts with Urban Bush Women as a participant in their Summer Leadership Institute in Brooklyn, NY. In 2015, he performed with his Bomba Afro-Puerto Rican dance mentor, Isha Renta and VA-based bomba group, Semilla Cultural, at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Dogtown Dance Theatre where he also creates and presents concert dance performances and productions. 

Johnnie Cruise Mercer by Tony Turner

Johnnie Cruise Mercer

Dance Faculty


Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a queer black thinker, maker, performer, educator and social entrepreneur born in Richmond, VA and based in New York City. Recently acknowledged as a 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient in Choreography, and nominated for two 2021 Bessie NY Dance and Performance Awards (Outstanding Production for _AShadowPrince, and Outstanding BreakOut Choreographer), Johnnie’s processes and work have been supported, produced, and/or presented by: The 92Y Harkness Dance Center, The Dixon Place, Danspace Project Inc, The Fusebox Festival, Mana Contemporary, Freeskewl, The NADA Conference, Abrons Arts Center, The Clarice Performing Arts Center’s The BlackLight Summit,  The Cuny Dance Initiative, NYU Tisch Dance, Goucher College, Bates Dance Festival, The American Dance Festival, Abrons Arts Center, Ping Chong and Company, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, The New Dance Alliance, SirenArts, The Wassaic Project, and Stephen Petronio Company’s Bloodlines(future) Initiative! 


Johnnie is the founding producer and Company Director of TheREDprojectNYC (TRPNYC), a multidisciplinary network of artists dedicated to the study of movement philosophy, and its use towards building communal spaces for black/other process, documentation, and investigation.

Currently Johnnie leads the team,TRPNYC, into their fourth year of a six year project entitled; “A Process Anthology: The Decade from Hell and the Decade that Followed Suite.” Charted as ten individual memoir driven chapters, the full project will soon come to a close with two DocuEpic Works in the Fall 2022 (commissioned by Gibney), and Spring/Summer 2024/2025!

Find more info on this project and his other work on Instagram



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Deandra Clarke headshot for Virginia Black Dance Festival VBDF

Deandra Clarke


Deandra Clarke is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a bachelor's degree in Radio Broadcasting. After four years as an  on-air personality with ​WBTJ 106.5 The BEAT​ radio station, she decided to expand her professional career in dance choreography by founding 4 The Streetz Choreography in 2003.


This professional dance company served as a way for dancers in the area to fulfill their dreams without having to leave Richmond for places such as New York or Los Angeles. Providing them with similar opportunities to build their dance resumés, gain experience in the dance industry and help prepare them for the time when they do decide to make that move into a professional dance career. She is now continuing her mission by focusing her attention on her newest projects.


One of which being the Co-Owner of MOVE! Dance Workshops, a traveling dance workshop series that makes stops all over the country, providing hip hop and contemporary masterclasses for aspiring and semi-professional dancers from established choreographers in the industry.She is also the Co-Owner of Studio 4 Dance Company.  A professional hip hop dance company based in Richmond, VA that focuses on the training of semi-professional dancers.  In addition to private company rehearsals, these members are provided performance opportunities to showcase their talents along the east coast. Not limiting their training to only company members, Studio 4 Dance Company additionally offers open company classes to the public on Wednesday evenings.Over the past three years, Deandra has been the Director, Choreographer and Coach for two sports dance teams; The minor league basketball team, Hampton Roads Sharks and the minor league football team, Virginia Hornets.  She is currently the Dance Team Coach for Midlothian High School Trojanettes.In addition to her many business ventures, she still choreographs and dances regularly for numerous independent artists along the east coast as well as teach weekly hip hop classes at the Village Dance Studio and Jadore Dance Studio in her hometown of Richmond, VA.

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Tribal Unicorn.jpeg

Tribal Unicorn Collective

Workshop Facilitator

Cues and Moves for Group Improvisation

Tribal Unicorn was founded in 2017 by April LaMar and Debbie Richardson to promote diversity, inclusion, variety, and love in the belly dance realm and beyond. With the addition of Missy Moore in 2019, Tribal Unicorn continues to be a beacon of black belly dance excellence. With culturally aware passionate performances, these ladies have graced stages from coast to coast, leading by example every time. For more info on Tribal Unicorn performances, workshops and classes please follow them in IG.

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William Sterling Walker.jpg

William Sterling Walker

Dance Faculty


WILLIAM STERLING WALKER began dance training at the age of 14, at the Chamber Ballet (now the Virginia Regional Ballet) in Williamsburg, Virginia. He went on to receive the Artist Merit Award from the Virginia School of the Arts, and was a Regional Dance America scholarship recipient. He also trained with the Allegheny Ballet Company, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. He has danced professionally with the Richmond Ballet, Starr Foster Dance Project, Chris Burnside and Dancers, Charisma Dance Theater, and has guest taught and performed throughout Virginia and as far reaching as central Mexico, the coast of Columbia South America and Southern Spain. He is a certified teacher in the Wolf Trap teaching method for children. William taught for eleven years Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Latin, Flamenco and Techno Hip-Hop at Henrico County High school's Center for the Arts, and The School Of The Latin Ballet Of Virginia in which he was the Junior Company Director and veteran dancer of it's professional company The Latin Ballet Of Virginia. He is most pleased to currently teach full time at Virginia Regional Ballet having returned full circle to where he was first given the opportunity to discover the world of dance.


Mr. Walker believes Movement is a means to transcend color and race. It can lift us all up to the same unified dance floor. He is very excited to share his love for Ballet and movement in general at Virginia Black Dance Festival.

William Sterling Walker


Julinda Lewis

Dance Faculty

BeMoved with Julinda

More Information Coming Soon

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Adelle Barrow

Workshop Facilitator

Music Editing for Dancers

Adelle is the Owner and Master Editor at Mixed Karma Productions.  A graduate of VCU in Richmond VA, she has been teaching dance and editing music in the Richmond and surrounding areas for the past 15 years.  She also dances professionally with the Latin Ballet of Virginia, and teaches dance at J'Adore Dance in Chesterfield.  She has done freelance editing work in the Williamsburg and Richmond VA dance scene for the past 10 years including dance studios, companies, college audition pieces/videos, and individual dance/cheer/school groups, etc.) 

She began editing music when she was 15 years old. (Back when she used tape decks and boomboxes to make mixes for her high school dance team.)  Having an ear for music as a dancer, dance teacher, and choreographer gives her an edge.  She uses a variety of newer and older programs such as Ableton, Fruity Loops, Reason, Acid, Cubase, Cool Edit, Final Cut and many more to add to the diversity of peoples needs while perfecting her editing skills. She is happy and excited to launch her own music editing service for those who want quality edits/mixes for their dancers/performers without having to worry about their music editing services!  She hopes to bridge the gap between choreographers, coaches, directors, Moms, teachers, brides and the students, dancers and audiences they wish to reach with quality and affordable mixes for all!


Talita Jackson

Dance Faculty

Modern Hip Hop Fusion

Adelle Talita Jackson is a native of Richmond Virginia, driven by creativity, arts and passion; so it was no surprise that Jackson would choose a career that embodied all of those principles. In 2005, Talita Jackson received her BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. For over 20 years, Ms. Jackson had been a dance educator. To give back to her community Talita started teaching in and around the local community centers, dance studios and even founded a local dance team that still operates today. Ms. Jackson taught dance and enrichment and dance as an interdisciplinary subject for 9-12 grade students in Richmond Public Schools. Talita Jackson is currently the director of the City Dance Program, where she implements extensive dance programming and training for the citizens in the community of Richmond, Virginia. While programming for the City DanceThe program, Jackson also is the co-director of the City Dance Theatre, a multi-award-winning dance company, comprised of the city’s youth that travels and competes around the world. Jackson has won numerous awards from attending dance conferences and for choreography including the prestigious, Choreographer’s Cup Award, an award awarded to the educator that has presented the greatest body of work. Talita Jackson is currently an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University and most recently held a residency at Mary Baldwin University where she continues to pour her talents and share her experience and knowledge with the young adults of the future. She is also formerly an adjunct faculty member at University of Richmond. Recently, Ms. Jackson was privileged to earn another movie credit for her choreography of the Netflix original movie entitled Burning Sands. Talita Jackson is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.


Dr. Benita “Oshun” Brown


More Information Coming Soon

Check out the amazing Artists who participated last year

while we prepare

 our line up for 2023!

Class line up this year includes


Contemporary Ballet


And More!!!

Stay tuned For 2024

Artists and Performers!



9:00-10:00 AM

AFRICAN ROOTS REUNION | Virtual Option Available 

Kevin LaMarr Jones

Come get your groove on and share in the fun of dances with African roots from between your back yard and the Caribbean as CLAVES UNIDOS, Artistic Director, Kevin LaMarr Jones delivers his signature "African Roots Reunion" community dance class. In any one session, dancers of all experiences may encounter dance and musical forms from Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, the United States and beyond as he weaves together movements from sambas to church shouts, dancing along a through-line which he considers a reunion rather than a ‘fusion’ of African dance movements. Experience first-hand the ability of dance, music, and memory to build community as this open-level, fun-for-all class takes participants on a kinetic world tour.

10:00-11:00 AM


Julinda Lewis


William Sterling Walker

BeMoved with Julinda
Step up your dance game in this dynamic, powerful, jazz class, designed for you to strengthen your strut, and find your inner fierce!

Driving his class from a belief that ballet is an ever evolving statement toward the current social economic wold views, Mr. Walker describes his class as classical ballet technique with a downtown modern aproach. Using full body weight and gravity as a means to launch the human form airborne propelling us through time and space, we thereby defy the very things we utilize to make it happen. 
Ballet has been described as ephemeral and otherworldly. Mr. Walker shows us this not through meek and fragile workings but bold and commitment attacks expressing our commitment as artist to paint bold and clear commentary of our unfolding sighns of the times.


11:00-12:00 PM

CREATIVE WORKSHOP: Community Building within Creative Practice | Virtual Option Available

MK Abadoo

This workshop invites participants to relish in the joy of movement and creative practice by exploring the question: how do we embody the wisdom of being in a circle, from a distance? Circling is ancient, whether they occur in dances, community gatherings, within the ecosystems of our cells, and beyond. Together, we will enliven our bodies to take up circling together by dancing together, and community building towards creative space making.

12:00 PM-1:00 PM

PANEL: Does Digitial Access Equal Equity | Virtual Option Available

Moderated by: Lydia Zipporah C.

More Information Coming Soon

1:00-2:00 PM

CREATIVE WORKSHOP: Music Editing for Dancers

Adelle Broom

CREATIVE WORKSHOP: Music Editing for Dancers
Learn tips on how to mix and cut tracks for simple edits. How to cut tracks and prep cuts to send to a Professional mixer to save you money and time and get an amazing sound.

2:00-3:00 PM

CREATIVE BELLYDANCE WORKSHOP: Cues and Moves for Group Improvisation | Virtual Option Available

 Tribal Unicorn Collective


Rodney L. Williams and Talita Jackson 

CREATIVE WORKSHOP: Cues and Moves for Group Improvisation
In this creative workshop, Tribal Unicorn Collective will help you understand the core concept of group improvisation, through learning cues and moves that come together in a performance piece completely improvised in front an audience. During the workshop, you will learn the basic moves of this style of belly dance, the cues to change movements, and put it all together to music. These skills of learning cues and movements can be taken into your own style of dance, to create a unique language for you and your dance partners. All ages, experience levels, and knowledge levels are welcome. Please wear comfortable clothing you can move in, and footwear that allows for movement. 

Modern & Hip Hop Fusion
Energizing and powerful blend of modern dance expression and hip hop choreography that combines the lines of modern with the rhythmic moves of hip hop; all with the signature energy that Rodney and Talita have become known for!

3:00-4:00 PM


Johnnie Cruise Mercer


The fast paced class/workshop flows freely through meditative work, weight shifting, micro-articulations, rhythmic patterns, Astro-healing, traditional form play, collective improvisation, and complicated phraseology, landing ultimately at each movers personal movement theory (the fertile ground for an individual’s choreographic lineage).

More Information Coming Soon

7:00 PM


Our Supporters

Dogtown Dance Theater Logo for Virginia Black Dance Festival Sponsorship
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