The VIVA School’s Inaugural Envision Gala Amplifies the Talent of Young Dancers of Color
October 28, 2022 @ 3:00pm
“As artists, as dancers, as movers — sometimes our best storytelling is without words,” says Chandini Darby, co-founder and artistic director of The VIVA School of Dance.
On October 29, The VIVA School will host its Inaugural Envision Gala, an evening of modern and contemporary dance. The gala will be held at Shaw’s Planet Word Museum, featuring a range of performances by students of The VIVA School as well as professional artists.
The gala’s program will include six dances, two of which will be performed by dancers from The VIVA School. The performance series will be preceded by an hour of h’ordeurves, and followed by a dance party where students, professional dancers and guests can mingle.
Established in 2021, The VIVA School of Dance is a nonprofit multidisciplinary dance academy dedicated to amplifying the talent of young dancers of color. The studio is transforming the traditional model of dance education by incorporating workshops that support students’ creativity, wellness and leadership development, Darby says.
“It’s the students that make this school unique,” Darby underscores. The VIVA School aims to validate and celebrate the individuality and creativity of its pupils by fostering “an environment for students to be themselves, [where] they are encouraged to be who they are.”
The studio, which is an independent division of the CityDance conservatory, offers full merit scholarships to all dancers that enter its 10-year training program. “That’s part of the way that we’re defying social barriers for students of color to train in dance,” Darby says, “because it has been inaccessible for so long, systemically and historically.”
Darby explains the Inaugural Envision Gala is an opportunity for the studio to connect with members of the dance community aligned with The VIVA School’s mission, and to “use it as a platform to amplify [what] we’re doing and what students are going to be performing,” she explains.
Julie Gerdes Becnel, founder of the strategic services firm Little Rouge Hen, echoes this sentiment. The VIVA School’s Inaugural Envision Gala will be, “joyful and celebratory, but also committed to social change [and] creating equity in the art form,” she says.
Students will perform the opening dance “Transport,” a contemporary piece that explores the extremes of emotion, and closing dance “Running Spirits,” which will highlight the students’ extensive training in modern dance, Darby says. The remaining acts will be performed by professional dancers Clifton Brown, Miranda Quinn, Roderick George, Jacqueline Green Miller, Coral Dolphin and Matthew Rushing.
After the performance, guests will also have the opportunity to partake in fundraising opportunities and explore the exhibits housed at Planet Word Museum, which feature interactive exhibits that showcase the development of language.
The Inaugural Envision Gala will be held at the Planet Word Museum on Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Planet Word Museum: 925 13th St. NW, DC; planetwordmuseum.org // @planetworddc
The VIVA School of Dance: 2001 10th St. NW, DC; thevivaschool.org // @thevivaschool