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Dance Instructor

Julia A. Vessey started ballet at a young age and continued her dance training at James Madison University where she was exposed to the world of modern dance. Upon graduation from JMU in 2005, she pursued a graduate degree at Arizona State University.  She graduated summa cum laude in 2008, and as Graduate Choreographer of the Year. During her time at ASU, Vessey studied and performed extensively with Mary Fitzgerald and David Dorfman. In 2009, she was accepted into the world-renowned Tokyo based Butoh company, Dairakudakan. Vessey joined them for their 2009- 2010 performance season where she learned the movement philosophies of butoh master Maro Akaji, the founder of the company. Vessey also studied under other butoh greats Takuya Muramatsu, Mukai Kumotaro, and Yoshito Ohno. Vessey is now one of the few westerners to have such an insight to the butoh world. Vessey is the founder of the Shojorakudava; Dairakudakan's satellite USA based Butoh Company.  Shojorakudava is a company that teaches the art of butoh and performs butoh works choreographed by both Vessey and Akaji, and has performed and taught in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Japan. From 2013- 2015 Vessey was the Ballet Director at Halestone Dance Studio in Lexington, Virginia. In 2019, Vessey was published in the “Routledge Companion to Butoh Dance” edited by Bruce Baird and Rosemary Candelario. This publication is a collection of essays written by butoh scholars from around the world. Presently, Vessey is on the faculty of the dance programs at James Madison University.  In addition to teaching and choreographing on students, including JMU’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Vessey has the pleasure of collaborating regularly with Virginia artists including Cynthia Thompson, Suzanne Miller-Corso, Sarah Gosslin, Faith Levine, RVA Dance Collective, Star Foster and Megan Hilary.

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