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Our Collection


Focus (BLACK)

Dancing Liberation & the State of the Black Dancer in Virginia

VBDF will be back for 2024!


Thriving through a pandemic and rapidly changing world. 

 And we’ve still got some pressing questions:

What does success look like for Black dancers, particularly in Virginia? 

 How do Black dancers cultivate and sustain the tools they need to fulfill their goals?

 What is the role of community in the life of Black dancers?

 We invite you to join us as we continue to inquire, look for answers, and find solutions, TOGETHER, at the 4th Annual Virginia Black Dance Festival: Unearthing Virginia's Dance Gems.

 VBDF 2024 will include over 20 dance encounters including classes, workshops, panel discussions, and a performance - all focused on Black dancer histories, opportunities and futures.

 VBDF 2024 is hosted by

Appomattox Regional Governor's School

and Virginia State University Dance Minor Program

With funding & Support from a

Boost Grant through Richmond Community Foundation


February 2-4, 2024


Appomattox Regional Governor's School
For the Arts & Technology
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.

Artists for 2024

soon to come!

Class line up this will include


Contemporary Ballet

Musical Theatre Workshop

Southern Style Majorette

And More!!!

Special Thanks to the Artists from 2020-2023!!!

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

Kevin LaMarr Jones

Business of Dance Brunch

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. 

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William Sterling Walker

VBDF Performance


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

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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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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Dr. Benita “Oshun” Brown


More Information Coming Soon


Christina Leoni-Osion

Workshop Facilitator

Women in Resistance: Reflecting Creative Cultural Process

Christina Leoni-Osion is a performance artist, circle facilitator,  and full-spectrum doula based in Powhatan Confederation Territory/Richmond, Virginia. They received their BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and are continuing to refine their skills in movement, facilitation, and support techniques. 

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Iswel Dance Theater

Glen Lewis

Artistic Director

Glen Lewis has been called " outstanding choreographer" who creates universes and tells stories motivated by the human experience and culture. Lewis's unique take on contemporary dance has gained national and international recognition. Lewis cultivated a space where artists could collaborate and use their stories and artistry in a growing and nurturing atmosphere. Using ballet base innovative movements to communicate their stories, Lewis established Iswel Dance Theater (IDT), where he is the founding artistic director. Lewis, a Virginia native, received his BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and extended his training at the Richmond Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Center, and the Nederlands Dance Theater. Lewis performed for eight seasons as a professional dancer with Island Moving company in Newport, RI. He grew his teaching endeavors by reaching dance academies, universities, and public schools along the east coast. Lewis is an established choreographer and teacher in central Virginia. He continues to share his visions and stories with audiences worldwide.


Khalia Harris

Umbiance Center for the Performing Arts

Founder/ Director

Khalia Harris started her professional dance career at the age of nineteen. She danced as an ensemble dancer for over fifteen years . During that time she was afforded the opportunity to dance beside  Alvin Ailey, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Duke Ellington School of the Arts dancers.  She has had the opportunity to meet and dance for such famous acts at Vivica Foxx and more.  She stopped her professional career to become a choreographer and instructor.  Her works include, choreographing for  the Broadway Musical "Sistas", " The Wiz" and Debbie Allen's, "Dancing in the Wings".    Her choreography has received received five stars In Debbie' Allen's "Dancing in the Wings" and the Broadway Musical "The Wiz".
Nine years ago she added founder and director to her list of accomplishments as she opened a non-profit program for at risk and special needs students called LEAP and a School for the Performing Arts. Some of her students have gone on to perform at The Kennedy Center, DADA and have received awards at Dance Theatre of Harlem.  All of these accomplishments pale in comparison to what she feels is her greatest accomplishment, becoming a mom to two beautiful children.


Ajna Tribal..... Tribal Unicorn 🦄

Missy Moore

Belly dance is an ancient form of dance that historically women performed in the company of women. This style cannot be definitively attributed to one geographical area, because where women gathered, women danced. As time and dance evolved, a new dance form, cultivated by Carolena Nerricio, harkened back to the improvisation, the earthiness, and the natural movement of bodies to music. In comes "american tribal style" now known as FCBD style.
This style of belly dance incorporates the natural movement of the body, and group improvisation .......

Meet Missy, an FCBD dancer for 6+ years, and a belly dancer for 15+ years. She provides the history forgotten before Egyptian style of belly dance, and uses the techniques and structure of FCBD to perform with Tribal Unicorn, and Ajna Tribal.

This workshop/panel discussion reinforces the pre-Egyptian origins of belly dance, and how you can improvise with your group!!


Semilla Cultural

Isha M. Renta

Puerto Rican Bomba Instructor

Semilla Cultural is a non-profit organization developing and cultivating a community that embraces Puerto Rican culture and arts in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia region. We focus on raising cultural awareness by teaching, sharing and performing the Puerto Rican musical genre of Bomba, as well as educating the community about the historical events that shaped this music. Semilla Cultural connects with the community by using the arts as a medium of unity and empowerment. We are a grassroots organization committed to educating and representing with pride and respect our love for Puerto Rican arts, culture, and traditions.

Isha M. Renta López is the founder and director of Semilla Cultural, a non-profit operating across Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia promoting and preserving the Puerto Rican heritage through bomba music and dance. Isha, born in Ponce Puerto Rico, having moved to Washington DC for schooling and a meteorology career, began her studies of bomba in 2007 with the local organization ‘Raíces de Borinquen’. Since then, Isha has dedicated herself to the preservation and propagation of the Puerto Rican arts and culture. Throughout her journey, Isha has studied bomba percussion, dance and songs from multiple bomba masters from Puerto Rico and the United States. Having founded Semilla Cultural in 2014, Isha now teaches, performs, provides seminars and builds community throughout Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland. Isha is fully committed to preserve and disseminate her culture to empower the communities while she continues her growth in this field.

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Ingram Brown


As a minister who loves to dance, Ingram has studied dances of the African diaspora, ballet, jazz, modern, West and South African dance as well as banner making and movement with fabric (flags, billows, veils, dance ribbon) and dancing with tambourines. During the year of 1995 in Houston, Texas, she had the opportunity to combine her passion for dancing with her spiritual life as she joined the dance ministry as Windsor Village United Methodist Church and as well as she danced for an African-Caribbean Company called Ballet Caribe. After this experience, Ingram continued to with church dance teams in Akron, Ohio; Nederland Texas; Jacksonville, Florida and Richmond, Virginia.

Over the next 15 years, Ingram would go on to choreograph pieces for church and community events; advise/teach new dance leaders directly or through her Legacy Bearer (general ministry), Representing (the standard and signs and symbols of the church), Victory (tambourine) and Out of Africa into the Diaspora (dances from countries influenced by the continent of Africa) workshops.

In 2010, she decided to return the Richmond, Virginia to assist with the care of her disabled father and continued to assist dance ministries at local churches and started participating in the activities of CLAVES UNIDOS. Claves shares and celebrates the historical, political and social connections of African diaspora dances world-wide.  In her studio at ArtWorks in Richmond, Virginia, Ingram has designed costumes for dancers and continues to make be a textile artist making wall hangings, rugs and scarves.

Day by day, Ingram is discovering the truth that “For in Him we live and move and exist” and her passion is encouraging people to walk in their G-d given purpose and destiny and sharing what she is learning on her adventure in following, trusting and loving God. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in chemical engineering and later obtained a B.A. in Christian Arts and Ministry through Logos Christian College and Graduate School in Jacksonville, Florida


Julinda Lewis

Dance Faculty &
VBDF Performance

BeMoved with Julinda

Julinda (from Brooklyn, NY) studied with George Faison, Fred Benjamin, Eleo Pomare, Dianne McIntyre, Maurice Hines, Ella Thompson Moore, Loremil Machado, and Pepsi Bethel, and spent many hours at Clark Center for the Performing Arts.
Julinda earned a BS and MA in Dance and Dance Education (New York University), an MSEd in Early Childhood Education (Brooklyn College) and a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Regent University. She has been writing about dance and theater for over 40 years, authored Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance, numerous articles and reviews, and edited Black Choreographers Moving Towards the 21st Century.
Julinda studied liturgical dance ministry at Calvary Bible Institute and Seminary under Dr. Brenda Colbert (Martinez, GA, ordained in 2009) and with the Eagles International Training Institute (licensed in Word and Technique, 2012).
Julinda retired from Richmond City Public Schools Programs for the Gifted (June 2015) after 30+ years with NYC and Richmond public schools, and is active as a blogger for RVArt Review (, and founding member/current President of the Richmond Theatre Community Circle. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Dance and Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University, teaches BeMoved® and Gentle BeMoved® classes for seniors, and is an instructor for the TEN Online Technique Center.
In 2018, Julinda had  bilateral lumpectomy for breast cancer (May 8), spinal fusion (May 14), left knee replacement (August 31), and right knee replacement (December 19). She is extraordinarily blessed to be able to continue to teach, minister, and perform and to be an inspiration to others. Currently Julinda enjoys performing as a core member in works by MK Abadoo including the duet Locs, the group work Octavia’s Brood: Riding the Ox Home, and the award-winning commemorative justice work Brother General Gabriel. During the COVID Julinda choreographed and performed in Lamentations, a Civil War play by Royal Shiree and had acting roles in Terms of Forbearance, a Women’s Film Festival Fringe play, and Royal Shiree’s Lightning Bug, all produced by the Hamner Theater (Crozet, VA).


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.


Rodney L. Williams

Dance Faculty

Modern Hip Hop Fusion

Singer, Composer, Dancer, Choreographer, Master Teacher

Rodney L. Williams, or Mr. Rodney as he is known by the thousands of dance students he has nurtured during his career. A graduate of William and Mary with a BA in Music Composition and Dance Choreography. Where he received the 1976 Martin Luther King, Jr. academic scholarship and the Steven Palades Music Scholarship. After completing his BA at William and Mary, he went on to teach in Richmond Public Schools from 1980-1992 as a music teacher. While there, he won a Teacher of The Year award. Also, in 1980 he became director of City Dance Theatre (CDT) through Richmond City Parks and Recreation, the youth performance company for the Richmond City Parks and Recreation Dance program.

Mr. Rodney made a career change in 1992 when he became the Director of Dance for Longwood Company of Dancers, and a Professor at the University. During this time, he went on to win College Dance Educator of the year with Virginia Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance (VaPHERD). Where, over the years, he has taught numerous professional development workshops for VaPHERD conference attendees. In addition to music performances, he has adjudicated dance for Miss America (2000) and received a John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts Teacher Fellowship. He continues to work as director of Richmond City Dance Troupe and enjoys creating powerful choreographic works that showcase the virtuosity of the students in the program. In his tenure as director for CDT, students have received scholarships for dance programs, won pageants, dance company positions, and some have become educators as well. Mr. Rodney continues to inspire the inner artist in everyone he meets.

Kendra McNeal headshot for Virginia Black Dance Festival VBDF

Kendra McNeal

Dance Faculty


Kendra is a performer and choreographer here in Richmond, VA. She grew up in Northern Virginia where she studied dance and performed on the competition team at Barton and Williams School of Dance. After high school, she attended Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied dance and choreography and also performed on the Gold Rush Dance Team. While still in the school, she continued to teach and choreograph while also coaching the dance team at Colonial Forge High School. After college, she continues to teach and choreograph here in RVA and in northern Virginia.

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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!


Sankofa Dance Theatre of VSU

Dance Minor Program, HPER Department, Virginia State University


Sankofa Dance Theatre is the Academic dance company of the Dance Minor program at Virginia State University. founded in 1999 by Dr. Benita Brown, Sankofa Dance Theatre members develop one concert per semester, work with guest choreographers, and collaborate with other student organizations on campus.


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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.  


Alicia Díaz

Workshop Facilitator

Women in Resistance: Reflecting Creative Cultural Process

Alicia Díaz is a Puerto Rican dance artist and associate professor of dance at The University of Richmond, located on the ancestral lands of the Powhatan and Monacan people. Her choreographic work speaks to legacies of slavery, colonialism, and cultural memory. She is co-facilitator of Pepatián’s Latinx dance artists initiative “Dancing La Botánica: La Tierra Vive.”

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Carey Mitchell, Candice Deisher Crystal Bullock, Rudy Saint Julien

Salsa Connection Dance Company

Assoc Vice Provost, Rsrch & Econ Devel; Int Dean, College of Grad Studies; Acting Chair, Bology Dept

Salsa Connection Dance Company, LLC (“Salsa Connection” or "SCDC") is a dance company based in Richmond, Virginia.  Initially teaching and performing as a continuation of Latin Vintage Dance Company under the guidance of Julissa Cruz, co-owners Carey Mitchell, Candice Deisher, Crystal Bullock and Rudy Saint Julien first offered instruction out of the Ezibu Muntu dance studio before permanently locating their classes to Dogtown Dance Theatre (“Dogtown”) until the fall of 2022.  In November 2022, Salsa Connection opened its own studio at 23 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220.

In 2019, Carey, Candice, Rudy and Crystal incorporated under the name Salsa Connection because it aptly encompasses their mission: (1) to remain connected to the Salsa community through our continued training, teaching, and performances; (2) to connect new dancers to Latin dance through classes and personal instruction; and (3) to maintain personal connections with fellow dancers in the RVA community through social events and community outreach.  Salsa Connection's technique-based training gives students the tools to be proficient leads and follows anywhere in the world. Because much of what makes Latin dance enjoyable is social dancing and community, Salsa Connection's classes are designed to ensure students are well-equipped to enjoy social dancing wherever they may be!

As dancers, we continue our own growth and training by traveling to dance conventions/congresses across the country and by bringing in world-class instructors/choreographers. In 2019, Candice and Rudy put RVA on the map when they competed at the World Salsa Summit in Miami.

In 2020, Salsa Connection was the RVA Dance Awards winner for the category of "Best Latin Dance Studio."  We are both humbled and excited to be awarded such an honor and we look forward to continuing to serve the Richmond dance community for years to come.

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Deandra Clarke

Business of Dance Brunch
Studio 4 Dance Agency, LLC

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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M Kamara

Programs Assistant


M Kamara (they/them) is a writer of all things whose story begins in Raleigh, NC, but is informed by all the places they’ve lived. From London to San Fran to Atlanta – M carries a bit of each place with them and their writing. Their work is published in online magazine, The Quarry, and the undergraduate magazine, PWATEM. They were the third-place winner of the 2020 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Prize. They worked with The Conciliation Lab to comprise their latest play, Whitesplaining. They currently live in Richmond, VA where they work at the School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) and teach writing workshops for The Warmth, a free week long writing intensive for young Black writers.


KrasH!Dance Productions

Kelly Hamlin

Owner, Director

Kelly, a native of Richmond VA, began performing as a youth competitive dancer. By age fourteen, she was awarded a scholarship to The Jofferey Ballet by (the late) David Howard. Over the course of her training Kelly has also studied at The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Center and The Ailey School.

Having spent 13 years in New York as a professional dancer, Kelly has performed works by Alvin Ailey at City Center & The Apollo Theater. She has also performed with The Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, Errol Grimes Dance Group, Genesis Dance, Jennifer Archibald/Arch Dance Co., Earl Mosely, Milton Myers, M'bewe Escobar, Stephen Contreras/SDance, The Riverbank Dance Collective and JP Dance Group. In addition, Kelly has also toured nationally & internationally, performing abroad in Lithuania, Russia, Poland, and Germany as part of the International Dance Festival and Malta Dance Festival.


By 2015 Ms. Hamlin launched "KrasH!Dance Productions" thanks in part to the Space Microgrant of Dogtown Dance Theatre. Since then the company has performed numerous original works in dance festivals and concerts spanning the Northeast. In addition, Ms Hamlin has taught for over 20 years for various dance studios, workshops, and Master Classes.  In 2018 & 2019 KrasH!Dance hosted The Small Plates Choreography Festival. And prior to her departure from Richmond, VA Ms Hamlin was featured in "Dancers of RVA" , a project by Katrina Boone of Giana Grace Photography.

In addition to her dance career, Ms Hamlin is also a passionate Director and Filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles. Of her growing catalog, her dance short "Black Kings Dance Too"(2019) was selected for screening in the Afrikana Independent Film Festival, 6th Annual Richmond Dance Festival, and the Silicon Valley African Film Festival. In 2022, she served as Producer for Trans-comedian Tuesday Thomas' comedy special "Tuesday's Trash" (now on Amazon Prime.) And she also served as Director of "An Addict's Love Letter to His Prayerbook" by award winning playwright Cris Blak.


Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts & Technology

Denise Purvis

Director of Dance & Event supporter

Denise Purvis, PhD, MFA, RSMT, is a dance educator dedicated to somatic approaches to dance technique and self-healing. She is certified in the Bill Evans Method and Eastwest Somatics Institute Shin Somatics® and is a certified somatic yoga teacher. Purvis’ research addresses the intersection of process philosophy and somatic dance, as well as dance education as 4E cognition.  She is department chair and modern dance specialist at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Petersburg, VA. She serves on the Virginia Department of Education Fine Arts Steering Committee as well as the National Dance Education Organization Strategic Planning and Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committees. Past experience includes serving as dance education specialist at Southern Utah University, and directing the dance program for the Chesterfield County Specialty Center for the Arts at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, VA.  Purvis presents nationally and internationally and is published in the Journal of Dance Education and the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices.


Kristen Harts

Dance Teachers of VA United/Richmond Ballet


Kristen Harts, being a dance educator with over 25 years of experience, started out with humble beginnings at her mother's dance studio in 1982, Gail Harts Dance Company in Portsmouth, Virginia. There, under the direction of her mother, Gail Harts, she learned that no matter how you look or where you come from, dance starts at the barre.  Kristen's mother taught her the importance of giving back to the community, offering a safe space for students wanting to pursue dance and opening up opportunities for students to further their education in dance through post-secondary education or by pursuing a professional career. Kristen studied all disciplines of dance and was exposed to such organizations as the Black College Dance Exchange, International Association of Blacks in Dance, National Dance Education Organization and various dance conventions and competitions.  Kristen went on to study at Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in Dance and Choreography and Old Dominion University. She is currently pursuing her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Arts Administration. She was appointed to Assistant Director at GHDC in 2002. She was able to curate a program that pushed the dancers technically and artistically, so that they are better prepared for any opportunities in the dance industry. Continuing her passion for dance, she opened up Youth Dance Society in 2015 in Fredericksburg, VA. YDS was the foundation she needed to start pursuing opportunities beyond the dance studio walls. She is currently serving as the Assistant Production Manager of the Virginia Black Dance Festival here in Richmond, VA. Kristen also established Dance Teachers of Virginia United in 2016, a dance educator group, which seeks to empower dance educators, amplify the arts, break down barriers of social injustice through art, and define the passion behind the movement. She is currently working as the Minds In Motion/Community Programs Administrator with Richmond Ballet since 2022.


Richmond Urban Dance

Jasmine Mckenzie

Instructor, Performer, Choreographer

Jasmine Mckenzie was dancing before she could walk! She graduated from undergrad at Old Dominion University and continued studying for her masters at Liberty University. She is the Quality Assurance Manager for Virginia Home for Boys and Girls by day and Assistant Director of Richmond Urban Dance by night. Jasmine started teaching dance in 2018 and has recently choreographed for a shoe commercial, a flash mob proposal, music video, as well as choreographed a musical (13: The Musical). Dance has opened more doors than she could imagine and she now knows that dance is truly a gift from God and a part of her purpose, and she plans to walk, well dance, into her purpose unapologetically.


Dr. Milton Faison

Virginia State University

Assoc Vice Provost, Rsrch & Econ Devel; Int Dean, College of Grad Studies; Acting Chair, Bology Dept

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Christine C. Wyatt

Workshop Facilitator

Women in Resistance: Reflecting Creative Cultural Process

Black, femme mover, from Baltimore, MD (Piscataway Land), continuing legacies of resistance, love, equity, & care through community based movement and organizing practices. Currently residing in Richmond County (Chickahominy Land)  a freelance artist and organizer/podcast co-host with The Dance Union; Christine curates, choreographs, facilitates, and archives. She’s been livin’ and breathin’ art, music, theatre and dance her entire life, starting her “training” at the age of 9. Her B.F.A in Dance & Choreography was obtained in 2018 from Virginia Commonwealth University. 

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Christopher Harts

Gail Harts Performing Arts Academy, Inc.


Christopher-Gerard Harts is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia currently serving as the director of the Gail Harts Performing Arts Academy, Inc. Christopher received his education from I.C Norcom High School, Hampton University, and Howard University. As an undergraduate, he participated in Marching & Concert Band, as well as the percussion ensemble.

Upon earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in English & Playwriting from Howard University, Christopher returned home as a dance and English teacher. His experiences reaches Suffolk, Atlanta, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach City Public Schools as a licensed educator. His perseverance and commitment to the Arts impacts youth and young adults throughout the Hampton Roads community.

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Akoma de Gado Dance & Drum Performance Ensemble, Inc.

Babadunjo Olagunke

Founder, Chairman, Creative Director, Teacher

Babadunjo Olagunke', Founder, Chairman, Creative Coordinator of The Akoma de Gado Dance & Drum Performance Ensemble. Also known as "Baba D" is a professional dancer, choreographer, adjudicator, consultant, and costume designer. Since 1983, He has instructed 1000's of students, numerous award winning teams, high schools, workshops, clinics, camps, organizations, and independent ensembles. He currently serves as The Color Guard Coordinator for Powhatan High School, Artistic Director of The Ngoma African Dance Ensemble at University of Richmond. Baba D has also performed with The Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps-Charter member and The Light Brigade World Winter Guard, which was The European Champions in 2007. He has also been awarded numerous Outstanding Performer Awards, served as a dance liaison in Senegal, West Africa, teaches African workshops for Dance Africa DC, is a member of the Dzifa Masquerade Society, worked closely with the late Baba Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC and late Baba Melvin Deals’ African Heritage Dancers and Drummers in Washington, DC. This marks his 42nd year of experience in the Pageantry Arts. His educational background includes studying at VCU with a concentration in Physical Education and a minor in Dance/Choreography. In 2015, he was inducted into The Atlantic Indoor Association's Hall of Honor.

VSU Essence of Troy

Tylicia Rice

Daycare Teacher & CNA

I am a first year graduate of Virginia State University where I was a Essence of Troy dancer for 3 seasons!


Studio 4 Dance Agency

Ariel Overton

Performer, Choreographer, Instructor


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