Dogtown Dance Theater building in South Side sold | Richmond Free Press

The Dogtown Dance Theater and RVA Dance Collective’s home at 109 W. 15th Street in the South Side is up for sale.

The Performing Arts Theatre, like other entertainment venues, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the building largely closed for the past two years and unable to fulfill its mission of providing a home for independent artists and small dance companies.

The operation, which has nine staff members, is said to have started winding down now that a key executive is leaving.

Jess Burgess, a dance activist who ran the building for years, is heading to the Greenville, SC, Center for Creative Arts to be its new executive director, starting May 2.

The grand finale of the operation will apparently be the 9th edition of the annual dance festival Richmond, which should run over three weekends, Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30; Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7; and Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14

Organized by Dogtown Dance Theater and supported by a local foundation, the festival is presented as a showcase for works by 23 choreographers from the region and nine producers of dance films. According to the website of the theater, the event will include African dance and Filipino as well as modern dance and improvisation.

Seventeen years ago, dancing breathed new life into the vacant building, which was built in 1939 to serve as the gymnasium for Bainbridge Junior High School. The school closed in 1975.

In 2005, Dr. Robert E. Petres, a retired obstetrician, and his son, Rob Petres, artistic director of Ground Zero Dance Company, came across the building while searching for a dance studio and the purchased.

After three years of work, Dogtown Dance Theater moved, followed by RVA Dance Collective Ms. Burgess who founded and served as artistic and executive director. His departure led to the collective decline in closure.

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