Photo by Anne Weston

Jess Burgess

co-artistic director

Jess Burgess co-artistic director & founder of RVA Dance Collective is a performer, choreographer and dance educator living in Richmond, Va. A James Madison University graduate, Burgess has trained extensively with acclaimed professionals in the dance community in the United States and abroad, including Sonia Rafferty, Donald Laney, Toneta Akers Toler, Isabel Gotzkowsky, Scott Smith (Siobhon Davies) and Keith Thompson. Delicately balancing a keen eye for the creative and a strong sense of business development and management, Burgess has flourished after graduation in an arts administration capacity in the nonprofit sector. 

Burgess is also the Artistic & Executive Director at Dogtown Dance Theatre. RVA Dance Collective operates as the company in residence at this historic Manchester arts building. She is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing the artistic vision and focus of the organization, and for major decisions about the ongoing development of the aesthetic values and activities.


Jess was the 2010 recipient of the Theresa Pollak Award for Excellence in the Arts for her work with RVA Dance Collective, and the 2018 recipient of Style Weeky's Women In the Arts Award for her work with Dogtown Dance Theatre. 

Hungry to satisfy her creative needs and entrepreneurial tendencies, Jess immediately began creating work and performing. Jess' work has been seen by patrons of the arts at Jack Guidone Theatre (DC), Dance Place (DC), James Madison University and Courtsquare Theatre (Harrisonburg, Va), Mcvey Studio Theatre (RVA), Grace Street Theater (RVA), Dogtown Dance Theatre (RVA), Trillium Theater (WVA), and Merce Cunningham Studios (NYC). Burgess also worked with Z Mullins Dance Company for three seasons as a company member, choreographer and graphic designer. Jess' choreography Piece of Mind was selected to be a part of the 2009 Dance Place in Washington, DC.

Her passion for dance extends well beyond the stage and into the studio. A seasoned educator, Burgess has taught and choreographed for Dance & Company in Harrisonburg, Va, Little People's Creative Workshop (RVA), University of Richmond, Radford University, James Madison University and St. Catherine's school in Richmond, Center for the Arts in Henrico, Thomas Dale Specialty Center for the Arts, and Trillium Youth Perfoming Company (Lewisburg, WVA). Jess currently teaches advanced and intermediate modern technique classes, improvisation and choreography at The Dance Company (Mechanicsville, Va) and RVA Dance Collective’s free community modern class at Dogtown Dance Theatre. 

Photo by Dave Parrish

Danica Kalemdaroglu

co-artistic director

Danica Kalemdaroglu (co-artistic director & founder) is originally from Norfolk, Va but has been living, creating, dancing and teaching in Richmond since 2007.  She began dancing as a child under the Martinez family, descendants of the Cuban National Ballet. 

Her passion for modern dance was sparked by Elbert Watson, former principal for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.  She went on to continue her education and training, achieving  a B.A. from Goucher College and a M.F.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder; both degrees in dance performance & choreography. Kalemdaroglu has studied intensively and performed works of many renowned artists such as Bebe Miller, Trisha Brown, Jose Limon, Martha Graham and Kevin Wynn. She performed professionally as a full company member of Washington, DC based Bosmadance from 2005-2007.


Her relationship with movement spans a small lifetime.  While in college, injury plagued her as it naturally does all dancers.  Kalemdaroglu began taking Pilates to supplement physical therapy.  It coincidentally unlocked a hidden talent, for teaching that unknowingly fostered her dance career.  Referred to by her clients as the "body psychologist", Danica now teaches Pilates with an integrative approach to the human body.  Her heightened kinetic awareness layers with her deep understanding of the governing laws of movement. She is fully certified in all levels and on all apparatus through the  classical training program of the Pilates Center (Co).  Kalemdaroglu offers private lesson (apparatus & mat) out of her home based studio, DK Pilates, in the far west end of Richmond, Va.

As a dance educator, Kalemdaroglu has held many teaching positions.  She is former teaching faculty at West End academy of Dance and Virginia Commonwealth University, teaching modern technique and Pilates. Over the years she has taught a variety of classes, styles and workshops for organizations like Excel Movement Studios (DC), Ballet Nouveau Colorado (Co), Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (Co), Joy of Motion (DC) and The Norfolk Academy (Va).  She makes regular guest appearances teaching master classes and lecturing for various events such as the Regional Pilates Conference (Md) and the National Dance Convention (Co).

Kalemdaroglu has been creating momentum for her artistic voice with works that are emotionally and socially identifiable to anyone.  With each work she strives to conjure reaction from her audience, making them carry a piece of her art home in their contemplation.  Her work has been seen throughout the country on stages such as Triskelion Arts Theatre (NY), The Cunningham Studio (NY), Jack Guidone Theatre (DC) and the University of Colorado.  She was a 2006 Metro DC/Dance Award nominee for her solo little white pill; a work selected for the annual choreographers showcase at Dance Place (DC).  That same year, stuck in the waiting room was featured in the annual showcase presented by the University of Maryland, College Park.  Kalemdaroglu is also a founding member of modern dance companies Collective Dance NY and Dragonfly Dance Experiment.

DK Dance Productions, Kalemdaroglu's solo dance company, merged with jessburgess|dance in 2007.  Jess Burgess and Kalemdaroglu joined out of an intense need to live within their art form.  They are able to give more of themselves through collaboration while maintaining their individuality as artists.  They strive to connect with artists across disciplines to enrich the community as a whole.

Shannon Comerford

company dancer


Shannon Comerford, who grew up in Amelia, VA, got her start dancing at Joy’s School of Dance. During her time there she was able to compete in several regional and national competitions and had the opportunity to perform on cruise ships and at Walt Disney World. 


 She continued her dance education at Radford University and recently graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance. She performed in many main stage productions in works choreographed by different faculty members and guest artists. 

Photo by Mike Keeling

At Radford, Shannon was lucky enough to perform works by danah bella, Bob Boross, Amy VanKirk, Deborah MchLaughlin and Margaret 

Devaaney, as well as complete a residency with Jenai West.  She was also blessed to perform in New York at the New York Jazz Choreography Project and was an apprentice for d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks.


On top of performing, Shannon was given the opportunity to work backstage both as the co-stage manager and assistant stage manager for ballet productions at the University. She also loves choreographing and on top of presenting work in student shows was fortunate enough to present a piece at the Mid-Atlantic region of the American College Dance Association in 2015. 


In her free time Shannon enjoys sleeping, watching Netflix and browsing BuzzFeed! She is so excited to be a part of RVA Dance Collective for the 18-19 season and can’t wait to continue learning and growing.

Lindsay Benson Garrett

company dancer


Lindsay began dancing at an early age, training at the Classical Ballet Academy under the direction of Cynthia Donavin Rudorfer, Nell Hacker, and Sally Hart. She spent her summers studying at renowned summer intensives around the country, including the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Richmond Ballet on scholarship. She also had the honor of performing as a finalist in the Washington Post’s Music and Dance Scholarship Awards.

She continued her education and training at Virginia Commonwealth University, earning a B.F.A in graphic design with a minor in dance. While in college, Lindsay performed and toured with the Richmond Ballet as a trainee for two years.

Photo by Mike Garrett

 Her professional dance career includes a range of dance styles with multiple companies, including Gin Dance Company, directed by Shu-Chen Cuff; Starr Foster Dance Project; Dancin’ Unlimited, directed by Marilyn York; Rapture Dance, directed by Willie Hinton; and pro ekoh dance, directed by Sara Hoke. Through these companies she has performed at the Atlas Intersections Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards among others. 

In 2015, she produced her debut multimedia dance performance, Altered Archives, in collaboration with Motion X Dance DC. Altered Archives premiered at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC and went on to be performed at the Kennedy Center. She has also served on the board of The National Performing Arts Funding Exchange.

Lindsay currently serves as the Partner of Strategic Creative at Copper Note, a multi-disciplinary branding and web agency.

Katy McCormack

company dancer


Katy McCormack, a Richmond native, began dancing at Richmond Dance Center at the age of three where she studied ballet, jazz, tap, and lyrical. In 

high school, Katy attended Henrico High School’s Center for the Arts where she studied under Victoria Fink and fell in love with the art of Modern 

Dance. In 2009, she began her education with a BA in Theatre and Dance at James Madison University and Minor in Exceptional Education.


While at James Madison, she performed for various works by students, faculty and guest artists such as Daniel Burkholder and Julio Matos and was 

a member of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble. 

Photo by Mike Keeling

During the summer 2012, Katy was fortunate enough to travel to London, England where she saw over forty performances and studied modern dance technique with instructors from the Laban Center. In the spring of 2013, Katy’s piece “Ladylike” was chosen as one of the student works for The Contemporary Dance Ensemble’s concert, New Voices in Dance. 

Upon graduating from James Madison University in 2013 Katy participated in the first Richmond Dance Festival, performing in a piece by Pamela England of Ground Zero Dance and also interning with Becky Ferrell of  FDance. Katy stays busy by working at a dietician’s office in the Richmond area, nannying, and also teaching modern technique at Richmond Dance Center. Katy is thrilled to be with RVA Dance Collective for her fifth season  and can’t wait to see what other adventures come her way!

Photo by Mike Keeling

Lawanda Raines

company dancer


LaWanda S. Raines earned a B.FA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She choreographed Children of Eden (Manchester High School), pieces for Latin Ballet of Virginia productions (2004-2014), and Langston is My Man (African American Repertory Company).


Her adjudicated works  have presented at Black College Dance Exchange Star Foster Choreographer’s Showcase, and the Richmond Dance Festival. Her performance experience includes repertory in Modern, Contemporary, Latin Jazz, Musical Theater, Hip Hop, African Caribbean, Latin Social Dances, and Flamenco.

LaWanda works as a teaching artist, and has a M.F.A in Dance and Creative Process with a Certificate in Dance Production from St. Mary’s College, California. Her work tackles issues of mental illness, social justice, and addiction. Mrs. Raines strives to create work that is both entertaining and thought provoking. She is grateful for each opportunity she gets to create with the language of dance. LaWanda is excited for her first year as a company member with RVA Dance Collective!

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Photo by Mike Keeling

Desmin Taylor

company dancer


Desmin is now in his 5th professional season with RVA Dance Collective. He was born and raised in Chester, Virginia where his interest in dance began to manifest later in his life at the age of 18. However, he put dance on hold for 6 years while he earned his bachelor’s degree and pursued his career in computer science.

In 2013, Desmin eventually found his way into the Richmond dance community through classes and workshops hosted by groups like Blank Canvas of VCU. He began his training with a focus in hip hop while also taking classes in areas like North Carolina, D.C., Maryland, Virginia Beach, and Fredericksburg. He eventually found RVA Dance Collective’s free modern class at Dogtown Dance Theatre where his love and training in modern/contemporary dance started. Desmin soon auditioned and joined the collective in the summer of 2014. He choreographed his first work, “Canvas”, in the company’s 2016 show “HOME” which was a favorite in the Richmond Times Dispatch Dance Review which was quoted “a hauntingly beautiful yet conceptually unassuming work…” He has also had his solo work, “Rebuild”, accepted into the 2018 Small Plates Choreography Festival in Richmond.

Throughout the years, he has trained and performed with other groups such as Blank Canvas, Pace Setters, and Studio 4 Dance Company. He now teaches and choreographs for several studios throughout the area including The Dance Company in Mechanicsville, Charlottesville Ballet, and Passion Academy in Henrico.

Desmin’s love and passion for dance continues to grow as he continues to share and give back to the RVA dance community, and he hopes to keep doing so for years to come!

Photo by Dave Parrish

Jasmine Tubach

company dancer


Jasmine Tubach, member of RVA Dance Collective was born and raised in Williamsburg Va. She is a 2015 graduate from James Madison University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Sociology while at the university.

Jasmine began her dance training in Williamsburg at the age of nine at Broadway Dance Arts where she fell in love with dance. She also trained at the Institute for Dance and was a member of their ballet company. She had the opportunity to perform at the Kimball Theatre in Colonial Williamsburg. This is where she decided dance was her passion.

Jasmine’s passion to choreograph was developed and refined while at James Madison, where she choreographed seven works with four of them showcased in JMU’s Student Concerts and the other three in the student showcase. Jasmine believes art should be made to touch and change lives. 

Jasmine also had the privilege to be a member of JMU’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble and preformed with them in March of 2013 and 2014. She was able to represent JMU at the Route 11 Dance Festival, where she performed “Out of Frame” choreographed by Olivia Landrum, which was chosen to open for the Trey McIntyre Project. 

Jasmine was able to develop her strong performance skills through the Virginia Repertory Dance Company (VRDC) at JMU. She had the pleasure of traveling to China with the company where she taught and performed in the Sichuan providence. She was also able to work closely with various artists across the country including Christopher K. Morgan, Karen Reedy, Nicholas Johnson, Emily Cargill and Eluza Santos from Brazil. Jasmine performed with VRDC on the JMU Main Stage Theatre, Dogtown Dance Theater, and at the Jack Guidone Theatre in D.C. 

Since graduation, Jasmine has been teaching at Broadway Dance Arts in Williamsburg. She enjoys giving back to her community in this way. She became a member of RVA Dance Collective in 2015 and she loves working with the company. “We have become a family” she says. The company was able to travel to West Virginia this year for a performance opportunity and Jasmine was very thankful for the dancing opportunities but also the opportunity to build relationships with other dancers.


Jasmine is thrilled about the road a head knowing that she will continue to pursue her love of dance but she will continue to give the glory of her success to God.

Photo by Mike Keeling

Kayla Xavier

company dancer 

Kayla Xavier, LMT has spent the last 4 years in Denver, Colorado pursuing her professional career with Third Law Dance Theater touring *The Sea" under the direction of Katie Elliott. She spent her time out west teaching at the Colorado Ballet and Performing in side projects with Maedee Dupre,  D.N.R. Blood Lust, Louder Than Words, and Between  the Bones. She is a Virginia Commonwealth University alumni from the College of Dance and Choreography. Other educational intensives include Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop, We Are Artists,  and Pilobus.  Her preferred style of movement is strongly Horton influence mixed with capoeira  and challenged with bits of humor and contact improvisation she learned in her summer intensive with Pilobolus.

Upon graduation, she graciously accepted scholarship to Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy where she became a licensed massage therapist in Denver and now in Virginia. Kayla has her own business specializing in sports massage at Method Massage. She wants to thank her husband  for all of his support and compassion for the arts.  This is Kayla's second season as a company member with RVA Dance Collective.