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  • Jenna Beardsley

RDF Artist Spotlight: Company | E & Sri Sai Dance Academy

The second weekend of RDF premieres tonight at 7p.m. We are spotlighting our final artists today: Company | E and Sri Sai Dance Academy!


Based in Washington, D.C., Company | E is co-directed by Paul Gordon Emerson & Kathryn Pilkington. Company | E is a prolific and established company working in the area to provide performance, education, and choreographic opportunities. They are a contemporary repertory dance company, dance education and interdisciplinary arts organization emphasizing international collaborations with the great choreographers, dancers. composers, film-makers and artists at work today. Additionally, Company | E serves as cultural diplomats working to build connections globally through international travel and artistic exchange. Company | E does not adhere to a particular dance technique or philosophy of movement, seeking instead dancers and artists able to perform at a world-class level regardless of the technique and demands of the artists whose work is coming to the stage or the screen. The company will be presenting CURRENT at RDF, choreographed by Maddie Hanson. The work will be performing the second weekend of RDF, June 18th and 19th.


Photo credit: Paul Gordon Emerson


Is this your first time at RDF/dogtown? If so, what drew you to RDF? if not, what about RDF brought you back?

Company | E performed in RDF for the first time in 2019. We participated in the virtual festival last year and are looking forward to returning in-person for our second time this year. We are appreciative of the community aspect of the festival and love working with Jess. We are excited to be back and in person this year to show a new work by Maddie Hanson!

If you have performed at Dogtown before, what is one of your favorite memories of your time spent here? 

During our first visit to the festival in 2019, we felt incredibly welcomed by the local artists we were fortunate to meet and share time with backstage.  All the artists were inviting and we were energized by the creativity happening onstage.

What is integral to your work as an artist?

Company | E is a repertory company that focuses on commissioning work by artists all over the world. As a frequent partner with the U.S. Department of State, we emphasize the sharing of culture, both as people and as artists, and showcase the works of various artists from various cultures on the stage. CURRENT came to us through our 2021 NEXT:WARMER Choreography Commission that commissioned four new works from four choreographers around the world based on the themes of climate change and ecology, a theme that we have been exploring for over a decade. Maddie Hanson is a talented emerging choreographer from Canada who is currently based in New York. Her work highlights rising sea levels and climate change, a focus that is at the core of Company | E.

How has the past year impacted your creation process for this piece?

In 2020 we pivoted all of our work to digital processes. Starting last April, we created over 10 new works through Zoom with very little in-person contact. These films premiered during a livestream series we started in May 2020 called "ON CUE." We are proud to say that we kept our dancers working and paid throughout the hardest times of the pandemic while still continuing collaborations with international artists we had partnered with. The process for CURRENT was one of our first hybrid processes. The first week of rehearsal was all on Zoom (choreographer and dancers in their homes), while the second week was in-person and in-studio for both the dancers and the choreographer, Maddie. It was such a joy to dance and create with bodies in the space and gave us hope looking forward into 2021.

Is there anything else you would like the Richmond community to know about you and/or your work? 

We are thrilled to present CURRENT during the Richmond Dance Festival. Here is a link to a micro-documentary created by Rebecca Weiss about the creation of CURRENT: https://vimeo.com/545770196 

Check out Company | E on their website, IG, and Facebook.

Our final artist of the 2021 spotlights is Sarada Jammi, director of Sri Sai Dance Academy. Sri Sai Dance Academy is an institution dedicated to learning, understanding, and fostering interest in Kuchipudi, a tradition of performance with origins in Andhra Pradesh, India. It was founded by Smt. J. Sarada. Sarada develops technical perfection, theoretical understanding, and passion for dance through her dynamic teaching style that nurtures self-confidence. Sarada and Sri Sai Dance Academy will be presenting Kalika Stuthi, to be performed the second weekend of the festival.



Is this your first time at RDF/Dogtown? If so, what drew you to RDF? if not, what about RDF brought you back?
 This is my first time at Dogtown - I learned about it because of the 2020 Rise Up documentary posts online earlier this year. 

What is integral to your work as an artist? 
I look at the lyrics of the piece, and look to bring its inner meaning to life and connect the lyrics to what is on my mind. I also like to find unusual rhythmic and movement patterns that are based on the traditional vocabulary of Kuchipudi dance, but bring unexpected twists.  

How has the past year impacted your creation process for this piece? 
This particular piece was choreographed several years ago and it calls on Shakti, the divine feminine energy for its strength in a time of adversity. With the challenges over the course of the past year, this piece has felt particularly poignant to me. 

Is there anything else you would like the Richmond community to know about you and/or your work? 
Art is a powerful tool without the barrier of language. Where words fail, through our art, we can share our emotions and feel others’ pain or joy. My father composed this song at a particularly difficult point in his life, and I learned to sing it at a very young age, so I feel very connected to this piece. Its lyrics and meaning have been with me throughout my life, and have been a source of strength for me. I felt compelled to choreograph this piece because of my personal connection with the song.

The final performances of RDF are here; don't miss out! Grab tickets today.

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