Although it may feel like the last week has lasted years, we are officially 7 days into November. With all of the chaos that has surrounded this election week, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and even more isolated than previously. Myself and all of the staff here at Dogtown would like to encourage everyone to take care of themselves as much as needed - and even more importantly, take care of each other as much as possible. Dogtown has sent out a newsletter with resources compiled and curated with the goal of healing, peace, and wellness in mind. If you were not subscribed to our mailing list but would like a copy of the resource guide, feel free to leave a comment and we can connect you with a link.
As we move into November, we must shift our focus towards each other and our communities as much as possible. It is for this reason that #WeavingCommunity is the fo
cus of Dogtown’s upcoming #GivingTuesday campaign. Dogtown has always been committed to the Richmond area and its people, and serving artists in an integrative and supportive fashion. In order to connect our community, I will be profiling a Dogtown artist each week of November. This week, I reached out to Desmin Taylor, who currently operates as Dogtown’s stage manager as well as teaching and performing in the area. Here is what Desmin has to say about Dogtown’s impact on his artistic life in Richmond:
What brought you to Dogtown? How did you get involved in Dogtown's community?
Dogtown was the very first place I took a dance class actually. I was invited by a good friend of mine to come take a hip hop workshop, and I was instantly hooked and addicted to dance. Eventually I began taking more workshops and began taking RVA Dance Collective's free modern class. After that, I became a regular to the building. It wasn't until I became a friend of Jess that I shortly began working here after she took over as director in 2015.
What is your favorite memory at Dogtown?
My favorite memory is definitely my performances with RVA Dance Collective in the 6 years I danced with them. I don't have a favorite year, but COVID makes me really miss the rehearsals with my company members and appreciate the opportunity to perform and show what we worked on all season. I have a TON of memories at Dogtown, but nothing made me happier than performing here.
How has Dogtown shaped you as an artist?
Dogtown helped to shape me more as an independent artist when I began hosting my own dance classes here. Of course it started out slow with 1 or 2 showing up on weekends, but now I get a pretty good number of students coming out to take contemporary, jazz, and hip hop. I have become a more confident choreographer because of this, but I'm still striving to become better each day.
Desmin is only one of a multitude of artists who have filled up and shaped Dogtown as it has grown over the years. A community is nothing without the people who make it up, and Richmond is home to a prolific and symbiotic arts culture that we are all lucky to be a part of. Stories such as Desmin’s remind us of the power of connection - a simple invitation from a friend could be enough to set your life on an entirely new path. I know I am feeling more thankful than ever for the opportunity to have the community that I do, and constantly see the ways that I am supported and influenced by the people I know.
We may be living in unprecedented times, but that opens up opportunities for unprecedented connection. Let’s continue to lean on and love each other. Be well, everyone!