Meet Noelani | VCU Dance| Modern Dance | Richmond Dance Photography Project

I started dancing when I was really little. My earliest memories are dancing in church and watching my big sister when I forgot a step or two. After that, I transitioned into taking jazz, ballet, and tap at local dance studios. Much of my motivation to dance was my big sister, Christal. For all of my younger years, I wanted to be just like her so I tried to do everything she did from elementary to the beginning of high school.

Around the end of eight grade, I had two major auditions to face: Thomas Dale High School Specialty Center and dELIRIUM, the competition team at Chesterfield Dance Center. I remember going to these auditions knowing that was I behind the other dancers and just having fun. My first year in dELIRIUM and Specialty Center lit a fire under me when I noticed that everyone else was just plain better. At this point, being behind was my greatest motivation as well as my greatest insecurity. Throughout this period, I found my love for modern dance, improvisation, and choreography. Throughout the program, I made many discoveries that sealed in my love for dance. I found that modern dance felt amazing on my body. It fed me spiritually in a way where I would leave modern dance class feeling capable and strong. Improvisation allowed me to finally be right! There were a lot of days where I felt as if I did everything wrong and that I was an imperfect person in a studio full of gorgeous artists. Improvisation allowed me to do what I wanted, and allowed me to feel beautiful. And then there was choreography, it allowed me to portray the images I saw in my head through movement, and I had never felt that kind of expression before. I’m so thankful for my high school dance journey, because I was able to grow immensely as an artist. It wasn’t solely focused on my technique so I was given the freedom to explore my quality of movement. I choreographed all throughout high school and that love and passion I felt led me to pursue dance and choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University.

I had wanted to go to VCU for as long as I remember, but I didn’t always know what I was going to be studying. Once, I found the Dance & Choreography Department, I was sold! These past couple of years, have taught me so much about my body, my artistry, and who I am as a dancer. There were times where I fell out of love with dance and dance had become some sort of a job, but those moments strengthened me and taught me resilience. Every dance day isn’t going to be perfect, but I have learned how to negotiate that within my body and translate that into a continuous growth of love for dance. I am currently in a place in my dance journey, where I have never been more in love with dance. Each week is full of learning, creating, and just completely going for it.

I have found that my happiness in dance relies on the giving and receiving of this art form. I am able to receive dance as a student to many teachers, and nothing can replace the feeling of taking a dance class. The giving of dance comes from choreographing and teaching. When I choreograph, I create these worlds that invite the viewer or audience in through movement and creates an urge within them to dance. When I teach, I am able to strengthen dancers of all ages and share my passion with them. As I continue my dance journey, I believe that simply giving and receiving will always lead me where I need to be.

I picked the VCU Dance & Choreography building, because it’s been my home for the past three years. The first time I ever walked into it, I knew it was home. This place has watched me grow into the artist that I am now, and the walkways and roads leading to the building, have led me home more time then I can count. Whether I’m by myself or surrounded by people, there have been many times where I’ve walked these paths stressed to then walk them later relieved. It reminds me of the waves of life and teaches me to go with the flow.VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0011VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0012VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0013VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0014VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0015VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0016VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0017VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0018VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0019VCU-Dance-Photography-Session-VCU-Arts-Richmond-VA_0020