2019-2020 Dancing Histories: This Ground

The University of Richmond’s 2019-2020 Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts was hosted by the Department of Theatre & Dance, in collaboration with the Modlin Center for the Arts. Events focused on the theme “Dancing Histories: This Ground.” The festival presented performances, lectures, panel discussions, and residencies by artists whose works reflect a unique engagement with contemporary politics and the interplay between history and memory.

All performances and events were free.

Festival Events

Camille A. Brown & Dancers

September 27, 7:30 pm
Alice Jepson Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts
In residence September 19-27

As Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers, dancer/choreographer Camille Brown excavates ancestral stories to connect history and contemporary culture through the lens of a modern black woman. She has received Ford Foundation Art of Change, Guggenheim, United States Artists, and TED fellowships and been honored with Jacob’s Pillow Dance, Doris Duke Artist and Bessie awards, as well as four Princess Grace Awards. Brown and her company Camille A. Brown & Dancers offered a performance and, in addition, restage a work by Ms. Brown for the University Dancers 35th Anniversary Dance Concert.

Brother General Gabriel

October 10, 6pm & 7pm
Richmond City Gallows Historical Site, Shockoe Bottom
A free shuttle to the venue will be available to UR students, faculty, and staff

Produced by Untold RVA
Choreographed by MK Abadoo
Co-Directed by Historical Strategist Free Egunfemi

Choreographer MK Abadoo and Untold RVA’s Historical Strategist Free Egunfemi held space for Commemorative Justice with the world premiere of their site-based dance work, transforming the previously unmarked gallows at the African Ancestral Burial Ground at Shockoe Bottom by calling forth the reemergence of young Gabriel’s invisible army from the year 1800. This exciting project amplified the deliberately submerged legacy of Richmond’s audacious warriors for Black Freedom, as the narrative continues to inspire new generations toward self- determination, intersectionality, and resistance.

Directions to the Site and Parking Lot:

There is a parking lot is across the street from an Exxon station on N. 17th St. and E. Broad. Once you park/get dropped off here, walk through the parking lot on the other side, and under the overpass. You will be walking away from the Exxon. Once you pass underneath the underpass, you will be in another parking lot, with the back of the Main Street Station to your left. Walk through this lot until you reach the tunnel on your right. A historic site, poorly referred to as Lumpkin’s Jail, will also be on you left. The tunnel to your right is the entrance to the Burial Grounds. 

Map: A map to the African Ancestral Burial Ground parking is available at this link.

GPS Address: 214 North 17th Street parking lot.


November 16, 8pm
American Civil War Museum-Historic Tredegar
A free shuttle to the venue will be available to UR students, faculty, and staff

Produced by NOW-ID
Choreographed by Charlotte Boye-Christensen for members of NOW-ID and select members of University Dancers.
Lighting design by Cole Adams
Supported by NOW-ID Executive Director and Architect Nathan Webster

CROSS CURRENTS is a 50-minute site-specific, contemporary dance performance that looks at a powerfully storied place—the James River shoreline in Richmond—to reflect and generate a present-day physical power that is at once grounded in the chosen site and connected to past and future.

Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Artistic Director and choreographer for NOW-ID, trained in London and NYC. She has created new work for national and international companies and conservatories: Danish Dance Theatre, The Bauhaus in Germany, European Dance Development Center in the Netherlands, Ballet West, Milwaukee Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, and others. Charlotte co-founded NOW-ID in 2013 and is also head of dance at Texas Tech University.

Charlotte Boye-Christensen and NOW-ID were in residence November 3-17

Jennifer Tipton

Lighting Designer
Artist Talk
October 23, 7:30pm
Cousins Studio Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts

Jennifer Tipton is well known for her lighting design for theatre, opera, and dance. Her recent work in theater includes To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway, in opera David Lang’s The Loser at the Los Angeles Opera, and in dance Justin Peck’s Principia for New York City Ballet. She teaches lighting at the Yale School of Drama. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Tipton will speak about her work as an award-winning lighting designer for dance, theatre, and opera.

Sean Aaron Carmon

In residence October 27 - November 3

Dancer/choreographer Sean Aaron Carmon graduated from the Ailey/Fordham BFA in Dance program and subsequently danced with the Ailey company for seven years before joining the North American tour of Disney’s The Lion King. Broadway credits include La Cage aux Folles (originating the role of “Phaedra”) and The Phantom of the Opera. He has also performed as a guest artist with companies including Cape Dance Company in South Africa and Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY. Carmon will create an original work for the University Dancers 35th Anniversary Dance Concert.

Roundtable discussion: Afro-Diasporicities: Memory, Resistance, and Healing in the 21st Century

When: Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Time: 5:30 PM
Where: Carole Weinstein International Center Commons, University of Richmond
(211 Richmond Way, Richmond, VA 23226)

Free and Open to the Public

How does the body remember? In what ways is embodied knowledge stored and passed down from one generation to another? How can the arts be used as a vehicle for steering society towards greater justice? Songs, music, and dances have fortified communities of color with ancestral knowledge, embodied resistance, and healing practices. In this hybrid roundtable, partially discussion and partially music and dance interventions, we turn to the term “afro-diasporicities” to bring into sharper focus how the lived experience of black diasporic beings and their movement, music, culture, and spiritual practices, which are rooted in a place yet historically uprooted and/or rerouted, exist, intersect, and evolve.

Invited guest speakers and practitioners:
Kevin LaMarr Jones, Claves Unidos
Alex LaSalle, with Julia Gutiérrez and Mateo González, Redobles de Cultura
MK Abadoo, Department of Dance and Choreography, Virginia Commonwealth University
Free Egunfemi Bangura, Untold RVA
Lauranette Lee, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond

Alicia Díaz and Patricia Herrera, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Richmond

University Dancers 35th Anniversary Concert

February 28-29, 7:30pm
March 1, 2pm
Alice Jepson Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts

Lío Villahermosa

Interdisciplinary Artist
March 28, 7:30pm
Cousins Studio Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts
In residence March 23-31

Lío Villahermosa is a Puerto Rican interdisciplinary artist. His work addresses themes of spirituality and identity framed in imagery that refers to the traditions and cultural syncretisms of the Caribbean. He was one of the emerging artists selected for the Puerto Rican Arts Initiative after Hurricane María. Villahermosa will present a new work exploring Caribbean identity through movement, voice, and visual media.


April 3-4, 7:30p
Modlin Center for the Arts

Produced by Company Stefanie Batten Bland
Choreography by Stefanie Batten Bland
Sound design by Paul Damian Hogan
Original interactive installation created by Benjamin Heller
Performed by members of Company SBB and the Richmond community

An interdisciplinary performance originally commissioned for La MaMa’s 55th anniversary season, Bienvenue examines the construction of migratory spaces and the changes resulting from each new inclusion, addressing current global and local events, as well as the present obsession with borders and identity. With a focus on reconciliation, Bienvenue highlights the varied origins and circumstances of arrival of all who now belong to communities within the United States. It explores the experience of paranoia, terror, and exceptionalism that has influenced the prevailing attitude of exclusion.

Stefanie Batten Bland and Company SBB will be in residence March 22-April 4.