JMU Alumni Dance Concert


The dance program at James Madison University is no longer in asbestos-filled Godwin Hall, but rather in the swanky and contemporary Forbes Performing Arts Center across from the quad. This past weekend, my dance company, Dogwood Dance Project, along with other JMU dance alum performed at Forbes and shared insights into what they have done post graduation. I was able to hear about the dance companies and opportunities the JMU dance majors have landed or created for themselves in a panel and am proud of the achievements of these 355 ladies.

UpRooted Dance directed by Keira Hart-Mendoza

UpRooted Dance began with the idea of creating a contemporary dance company that could easily be uprooted and taken somewhere new. Uprooted Dance also explores performance and dance settings apart from the proscenium stage. Recently, these dancers performed on a rooftop in Washington, D.C. Most often, Keira runs the company as a project based pick-up company, but currently there are 7 members of the company and all are JMU dance alum! If you are interested in learning more about this dance company and helping to fund their 2012-13 season, please visit their Indiegogo campaign.

R.A.D.A.R. [Richmond Area Dance Artists Redefined]

RADAR is a modern dance company located in Richmond, Virginia. The company has been dancing together since 2006, when they were known as Z Mullins Dance Company. In the summer of 2011, Z Mullins Dance Company disbanded and the dancers decided to continue creating and performing work collaboratively as RADAR. There are 5 JMU dance alum in this collaborative company.

Dogwood Dance Project

Dogwood Dance Project was founded by 4 JMU dance graduates looking for ways to integrate their education and shared experiences into quality, ‘real-world’ art. There are now 6 JMU dance alum dancing with Terra.

Dogwood Dance Project meets for rehearsals in Richmond, Prince George, Gordonsville, Charlottesville, and Chesapeake, Virginia with the important mission–to bring innovative, unique and varied dance to audiences throughout the Commonwealth of  Virginia and beyond–without establishing ‘home’ in any one place. This season, Dogwood has started a Youth Ensemble as part of the education initiative to provide a pre-professional education experience for dancers interested in pursuing dance after high school.

rva dance collective directed by Jess Burgess and Danica Kalemdaroglu

rva dance collective sprung from the creative collaboration between the artistic directors and there are currently 2 JMU alum in this company, based in Richmond. rva dance collective offers a FREE modern technique class on Sunday mornings from 10-11:15am open to all dancers in the community. Classes are held at Dogtown Dance Theatre in historic Manchester in the main second floor space.


Shojorakudava is a U.S. based Japanese Butoh dance company founded by JMU Alum and now JMU adjunct professor, Julia Vessey. The company has worked with a few dancers from JMU and now works with Heather Lundy, another JMU alum. The company was created in coordination with Maro Akaji, the Tokyo-based Butoh master and founder of the world-renown dance company Dairakudakan. To give some background, Butoh was started in Tokyo as an artistic reflection to the horrors of the two atomic bombs dropped in Japan at the end of the second World War.

All of these dance companies performed as part of the JMU Alumni Dance Concert and I am very proud of these dancers for pursuing their art. Of course, the reach of JMU dance is not limited to these DC/VA companies I’ve highlighted today, but it was wonderful to share the weekend celebrating dance and professional performance with these lovely women. Best of luck to those still dancing away at JMU and remember that all the alum are here to help you get to where you want to go.