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RDF Artist Spotlight: Trybe Dance Collective & Leah Glenn Dance Theatre

The first day of Richmond Dance Festival kicks off tonight, with our first show premiering at 7p.m. tonight! To celebrate, we are continuing our spotlight series with the Trybe Dance Collective and Leah Glenn Dance Theatre.

The Trybe Dance Collective was founded and is currently directed by Danielle L. Ward. The Trybe Dance Collective serves as a safe space where emerging fine artists and choreographers can explore and hone their crafts, while nurturing their love for dance. They provide mentorship, training, and performance to the Washington, D.C. area. They will be presenting Marathon at RDF this year. Marathon will be presented the second weekend of RDF, June 18th and 19th.

Photo from the Trybe's website

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 our first time performing at both The Richmond Dance Festival & The Dogtown Dance Theater. What drew us to RDF was “the organization's mission to be a home for all independent artists”. The Trybe Dance Collective also strives to be a home for independent artists by providing both opportunities and education for dancers and young choreographers while they navigate the industry of professional dance performance. Although The Trybe is not local to the Richmond area, we thought it was especially important to participate in events in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to show the solidarity amongst our state and territory neighbors. On too many occasions we’ve seen brilliant artists come from these areas and not receive the recognition that an artists from a larger city may receive. It was important to us to submit to an event such as RDF, in a city that is so full of culture and has so much appreciation for the fine arts, especially dance. 

What is integral to your work as an artist?

As an artist and educator, it is integral that the work be done with purpose and intention. I also believe that inspiration should feel organic and the storytelling that follows it should communicate honestly. Lastly, I think it’s important that when all is said and done, that the work does not feel like it was only “my work”. I love getting suggestions from my peers and students while a work is in progress, getting my students involved and including what they would like to communicate in the piece as well. Marathon in fact is a marriage of my original choreography and student improvisation with choreographed phrases. This piece was indeed fulfilling for me as an artist, but it was truly a pleasure to watch my students explore their artistry and movement quality and to give them their first Assistant Choreographer title. 

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

The past year greatly impacted our process for Marathon. About two-thirds of the piece was choreographed virtually due to capacity restrictions in our area. This was the first time creating like this for the dancers as well as myself. Although frustrated by our limitations, virtual learning and creation exposed a different side of creative freedom for the dancers by not standing directly in front of a mirror. They shared with me that they were not distracted by any negative thoughts or distractions they would sometimes have while watching themselves dance. It also took away the element of comparison. Instead of focusing on what another dancer could or could not do, all of their focus immediately redirected to their instructors because they only wanted to pay close attention to what was happening on their screen. Although there were many benefits to our virtual learning methods, there was some sadness and longing felt amongst all. We all missed the shared energy and beauty felt when you're in-person, in a dance studio creating together. There were many times that we felt the urge to stop and wait until we could back into the studio simply because we didn’t feel the same excitement while creating, but we decided to push through and it paid off. 
2020 started off like any other year; full of possibilities, a little slow to start, the feeling of a new day upon us. Abruptly, that course took a turn towards a new era with no return destination in sight. The feelings of confusion, injustice, loss and loneliness have appeared to bring us closer, invading our spaces as we knew them. We find ourselves flocking in patterns that were once unfamiliar to a society of access now confined and bound by the limitations placed upon us. However, through this discomfort, we must also acknowledge the growth we have achieved, the awareness we have experienced and the overwhelming reception of survival, while also honoring those who have fallen before us, even while they follow us through the shadows. Passion, purpose, and faith have made us stronger. Now that we have found our footing we must finish this journey. Only together will we succeed in the endeavors we have embarked upon. Only together will the Marathon be won.

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

The Trybe Dance Collective serves as a safe space where emerging fine artists and choreographers can explore and hone their crafts, while nurturing their love for dance. Through personalized training, dedicated instruction and a holistic curriculum, the Teaching Artists of The Trybe Dance Collective aim to guide and challenge creatives while molding them into breakthrough fine artists. Dancers who join The Trybe can expect a rigorous, goal specific training program and mentorship with specialized guidance towards a dancer's path. Dancers can take confidence in knowing that their Teaching Artists, with over 30 plus years of teaching, choreography and performance experience, are equipped with the tools, education and network in order to get dancers to their next level.

Check out the Trybe @thetrybedc on IG and on their website. The Trybe is now raising donations as they prepare to expand and renovate their new studio home through a campaign on GoFundMe. Go support!

Leah Glenn Dance Theatre is directed by Leah Glenn. The company seeks to create work that creates understanding while simultaneously inspiring and challenging audiences. They will be presenting Perceived Threat, pictured above, at RDF this year. Perceived Threat is part of the second weekend, premiering on the Dogtown stage June 18th and 19th.

(photos of Leah Glenn Dance Theatre, taken by Leah Glenn and Steve Prince).

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 presenting in the Richmond Dance Festival. I have heard good  things about the programs offered through Dogtown Dance Theatre and am interested  in learning more about the Richmond Dance community. 

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

This will be my inaugural performance at Dogtown Dance Theatre. 

What is integral to your work as an artist?

Many of my works are inspired by people and the intricacies of the 
human experience. 

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

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on my creative and production process in a variety of  ways. Rehearsing via Zoom has been very challenging but has forced me to find  innovative ways of communicating the details of my choreography. The pandemic has  also unearthed and reminded me of the benefits of and need for solitude and  community. This dichotomy can be seen in the work that I will be presenting. Perceived  Threat explores the inescapable push and pull that occurs when trying to assist  someone who recognizes their need for help but does not want to accept it. 

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

I will be presenting an Artist Talk at Dogtown Dance Theatre Saturday, June 5th entitled  The Making of Nine. This presentation will provide audiences with a bird’s eye view of  the collaborative, creative process of my multimedia work Nine: A Tribute to the Little Rock Nine. 

More about Leah Glenn below:

Leah Glenn received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Choreographic Theory and Production from Southern Methodist University as well as her Teacher's Certification in Labanotation from Ohio State University. Ms. Glenn received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Management from Goucher College. While there, she performed as a soloist for artist-in-residence, Gary Masters, and was a member of the PATH modern dance company. Ms. Glenn has also received extensive training from Jacob's Pillow, the Chautauqua Institute and has worked with the Philadelphia Dance Company where she trained with Milton Meyers and Denise Jefferson.

Prior to teaching at William and Mary Ms. Glenn was Assistant Professor and Head of Dance at Hampton University for two years. While at Hampton, she directed the Terpsichorean Dance Company and established the first African American chapter of the National Dance Association's Nu Delta Alpha Honor Society. Her choreography has been presented by William & Mary, Hampton University, the Maryland School of Ballet and Modern Dance and Colonial Williamsburg. Her reconstructions of Pearl Primus’ Bushasche Etude, the Parsons Etude, the Limon Etude, Anna Sokolow's Rooms Etude and Donald McKayle's Rainbow Etude have been presented by William and Mary. She has also reconstructed the Rainbow Etude at Southern Methodist University, Old Dominion University and Hampton University. Her most recent reconstructions include Lynchtown by Charles Weidman and a ollaboration with Paul Taylor Dance Company member, Parisa Khobdeh on Taylor’s work entitled, The Word.

In addition to her original work and historical reconstructions, Glenn also co-choreographed Journey of Destiny, the retelling of the settlement of Jamestown, which was part of the Jamestown 400th Anniversary Celebration. Several of her most recent works have been presented at the annual International Association for Blacks in Dance Conferences. Her company, Leah Glenn Dance Theatre, has presented concerts at the Katzen Museum, Dance Place, the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the closing event for the ASWAD (Association for the Study of Worldwide African Diaspora) Conference at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in November 2019. Glenn is currently presenting a series of Artist Talks promoting LGDT’s 2022 tour of performance at the Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas, Dogtown Dance Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, CPRDE Theatre in Denver, Colorado and Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to her role as Founder and Artistic Director of Leah Glenn Dance Theatre (LGDT), Glenn is a Full Professor completing her fifteenth year at William & Mary and was recently awarded the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of Dance and Africana Studies.

Leah Glenn Dance Theatre can be found on IG @leahglenndancetheatre and on their website.

Tickets for RDF are limited and selling quickly; get yours today!

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