Richmond Ballet News


April 23rd, 2015

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In Partnership with The Cultural Office of The Chinese Embassy and TowneBank, Esteemed Arts Program Celebrates Two Decades with a Touching Chinese Folktale

Minds In Motion (MIM), Richmond Ballet’s arts education and outreach program, is excited to mark its 20th anniversary with the presentation of The Emperor’s Flowers, April 30-May 2 at Richmond CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre. With the generous sponsorship of TowneBank, this year will be the third consecutive year that the Minds In Motion program will hold its year-end performances at the historic theatre. The performances will bring together nearly 1,300 fourth grade students from 15 public and four independent schools across the Richmond area in a professionally-produced celebration of both the program’s milestone anniversary and of public art in downtown Richmond.

This season, the program has also served as an important piece of the Ballet’s Road to China initiative, a yearlong exchange that promotes awareness and understanding of the Chinese people and culture, ahead of the professional company’s four-city tour of China in late May. In partnership with the Cultural Office of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., MIM students have studied The Emperor’s Flowers and Chinese storytelling through the use of movement since the start of this academic year. Moreover, in honor of the Road to China initiative, the professional company will also perform the finale from Ma Cong’s Lift The Fallen during all six of the year-end, MIM performances in Richmond. Lift The Fallen is one of the four works slated to travel to China in mid-May.

“The Cultural Office of the Chinese Embassy has enjoyed sharing information about China’s culture with Richmond Ballet and Minds In Motion dancers,” said Madame Li Hong, the Minister Counselor from the Embassy’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “We hope this season’s Minds In Motion has given the students a wonderful experience and numerous discoveries about themselves, their co-dancers and the culture of China. We congratulate Minds In Motion on its 20th anniversary and wish all the student dancers good luck with their performance of The Emperor’s Flowers.”

“It has been wonderful for our students to learn about this Chinese folktale, and to have done so through our unique platform that encourages an understanding our differences and cooperation through movement,” said Cat Studdard, Education Director for Richmond Ballet. “This story represents the beliefs of our program beautifully. It’s quite inclusive – for all of our hundreds of students, our alumni and our professional dancers – and it celebrates honesty, hard work and bravery.” The Emperor’s Flowers tells the story of the young Kai Ping and an aging, childless Emperor, who distributes a set of seeds among all the children in China and decrees that his successor shall be the one who produces the best flowering pot in a year’s time.

“We are also proud to be able to offer this experience in the continuing tradition of public art in downtown Richmond,” added Ms. Studdard. “The Emperor’s Flowers engages all elements of the Richmond Ballet community, and we truly see these performances as our gift to the city. The production is beautifully designed by our Production Director, MK Stewart, and his team – it’s full of color, lights, dazzling sets, and of course, pots and pots of magnificent flowers; we have our company dancers; we have our students; and we have our amazing teaching artists and musicians who have helped our students bring this story to life. This is a great opportunity for our central Virginia community to share in this tremendous public art experience that will celebrate the hard work of so many of the area’s students.”

Throughout its 20 year history, the MIM program has touched the lives of more than 25,000 Virginia schoolchildren from MIM 20th white accentacross the City of Richmond, the City of Hopewell, Chesterfield County, the area’s four independent schools, and in Charlottesville. Many of the program’s alumni are expected to return for the special anniversary, and a handful are scheduled to participate in a celebratory alumni dance that will be included in each of the six performances in Richmond. Former MIM participant and current Julliard student Peter Farrow is expected to lead fellow MIM alumni on stage this spring. “Minds in Motion is truly the reason I am who I am today and I wouldn’t change a second of my experience for anything,” said Mr. Farrow. “I think what I learned in Minds in Motion is why I am still able to enjoy dance as much as I do every day. I learned to work hard, learn fast, and most importantly to never take anything too seriously; anything and everything can be fun if you’re willing to try.”

Minds In Motion is the realization of one of our core beliefs at Richmond Ballet: that dance has a special and unique power to transform and uplift our lives, and to reinforce our community bonds,” added Stoner Winslett, Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet. “Minds In Motion has been, since its inception, the cornerstone of our educational and outreach philosophy. To be able to expose young students to the positive and uplifting effect of dance for now 20 years has ensured that we are continuing to build compassionate communities at home, infused with the powerful belief in unlimited human potential that dance so inspires.”

“I have been so proud to watch this program grow over the course of the past 20 years,” said Brett Bonda, Managing Director for Richmond Ballet, and founding director of Minds In Motion. “In 1995, we already understood the great potential of this program, but never would have imagined that it would have touched the lives of more than 25,000 schoolchildren here in Virginia, or to have now expanded as far as Israel. I know I speak for many of my friends and colleagues at Richmond Ballet when I say that Minds In Motion is really what we are all about – it’s about making connections through dance. Here’s to 20 more years!”

Complimentary tickets to The Emperor’s Flowers are now available to the public at the Richmond Ballet Box Office on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will also be available at the Carpenter Theatre Box Office one hour before each of the performances beginning on April 30. Seating is general admission. There will be free parking at select downtown locations. Please visit to learn more.

City of Charlottesville elementary schools will present their Minds In Motion year-end performance on May 28th at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center at 7:00 pm. While the professional company tours in China in late May, the performance will include the popular Teacher’s Dance, which reappears every year to the delight of Charlottesville audiences and MIM students. Please call Guinn Baker at 804.344.0906, ext. 289, for ticket information.


2014-15 Quick Facts and Program History:

  • Since its inception in 1995, more than 25,000 Virginia schoolchildren have participated in the MIM program.
  • The 2014-15 MIM program reaches more than 1,665 students in 25 Central Virginia schools. There are 78 MIM classes taught onsite in these schools each week.
  • For the 2014-15 school year, the MIM program reaches nearly 1,300 fourth grade students in the Richmond area, with partnerships in 15 public schools in the City of Richmond, the City of Hopewell, Chesterfield County, and at four independent schools.
  • For the 2014-15 school year, the MIM program reaches nearly 350 fourth grade students in all six Charlottesville City Elementary Schools.


The Emperor’s Flowers  |  Minds In Motion Richmond  Year End Performance Dates:

Thursday, April 30, 5:00pm and 7:00pm

Friday, May 1, 6:00pm and 8:00pm

Saturday, May 2, 4:00pm and 6:00pm

Richmond CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre  |  600 E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA, 23219


Complimentary tickets are now available to the general public at the Richmond Ballet box office, at 407 E. Canal Street, or by calling 804.344.0906, ext. 224.



The Emperor’s Flowers is generously sponsored by the following:

Title Sponsor:


Major Sponsor:

Genworth Foundation

Minds In Motion and Minds In Motion Israel also receives additional support from institutions and individuals

across Virginia and the United States. Please consult the 2015 playbill for a complete list of sponsors.

Illustrations by Jessica Mayes.







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