Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

Welcome to Grace Street Theater

Virginia Commonwealth University's Grace Street Theater is a little known but successful example of renovation and adaptive use of a historic property. The building originally opened in 1935 as the Lee Theatre, a neighborhood movie theater showing second-run films. It served for a brief period in the late 1950s/early 1960s as an art house theater. In 1965 it became known as the Lee Art Theatre and began presenting adult films along with burlesque style dancers. VCU purchased the property in 1993 and after extensive renovations the building re-opened in 1996 as VCU's Grace Street Theater. The theater is now the primary performing venue for VCU's Department of Dance and Choreography which operates the building and the box office. VCU's Department of Art History and Cinema Program also uses the building for many of its classes and screenings. In addition to its University uses, the 225 seat theater is available to the Richmond community to rent for dance performances, films, lectures, and other events.


21st Annual William E. & Miriam S. Blake Lecture: Presented by Elizabeth A. Clark, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:30pm 

Admission: Free and open  to the public Blakesphoto

The lecture honors William E. and Miriam S. Blake and is presented annually by a renowned scholar. The lecture is supported by an endowed fund established by family, friends, colleagues,and those who enjoyed the History of Christianity course which Professor Blake initiated at VCU. 2014 marks the 21st anniversary of this lecture series. Elizabeth A. Clark  received her B.A. from Vassar College in 1960, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1962 and 1965, respectively. In addition, she received an S.T.D., honoris causa, from the Univeristy of Uppsala in 2001. Professor Clark joined the faculty of the Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia in 1964, founding its Department of Religion and eventually serving as its chairperson. She remained there until 1982 when, after spending the spring semester as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she joined the Duke faculty as a professor in the Department of Religion. She currently holds dual appointments at Duke: John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion and Professor of History. Professor Clark specializes in the field of Christianity, and she is widely credited with having a transforming influence on its study. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the Dr. Andrew Crislip ( or 804-828-0155), the History Department’s Blake Chair in the History of Christianity.


James River Film Festival: Screening of “Phantom of the Operator”

Saturday, April 12th, at 7:30-9:00pm

phantom_simple_poster_420_x_620-203x300Caroline Martel, a Montreal filmmaker and artist-in-residence in VCU’s Department of Photography and Film, will screen Phantom of the Operator.  A social history of the telephone operator, Phantom… documents the anonymous figures behind the development of the telecommunications networks so critical to the times.  Martel’s ode to those girls on Ma Bell’s switchboards is artfully constructed thru the montage of clips from industrial and production films of the era. For more information about the full list of films and participating venues for the James River Film Festival, please visit:



Cinematheque Presents: The Ascent Larisa Sheptiko (Russia 1977)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 at 7pm

All films shown in 35mm.

Admission: Free and open to the public

up-03_Ascent_1“After studying in the workshop of Dovchenko and Romm, Shepitko graduated from VGIK in 1963. After an impressive diploma work (Heat) she directed Wings, a complex character study that eschewed cliche to depict the emotional gap that develops between a proud, professional woman and her estranged daughter. Though praised by critics, Wings received only a limited release by Soviet authorities. Her next project was a short film for the omnibus Beginning of an Unknown Era called “Homeland of Electricity”. Produced by Mosfilm’s ill-fated Experimental Studio, it was shelved by censors and wasn’t released until after Shepitko’s death. The high point of her career came with Ascent, which won the Golden Bear at Venice in 1977. After dying in a tragic accident in 1979, her final project, Farewell, was completed by her husband, Elem Klimov, using her script.” (Seagull Films) “An extraordinary film, in which any conventional, corporeal “war film” heroics are quickly discarded; what follows is a purely metaphysical exploration of cowardice, fear and guilt, as if the characters have died and are living in a purgatorial world, where the only possible salvation is that of their souls. Analogies to the tale of Christ and Judas abound, but its greatness is owed to peerless direction and acting.” (Howard Or)

If you have any questions about Cinematheque, please visit:



VCU Dance Department Presents: “Conversations”

Friday &  Saturday April 25 & 26 2014 at 8pm 

Admission: $15/$10 students with valid I.D.

1960917_10152352419130330_6681229773707313494_o“Richmond, VA – VCU Department of Dance and Choreography presents 2014 Spring Senior Project: Conversations on April 25th and 26th at the Grace Street Theater, 934 West Grace Street. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and can be purchased by calling the box office at (804) 828-2020 or online at

Conversations explores various internal and external transformations based off of past experiences; both personal and universal. These projects are an accumulation of all the knowledge and tools that the spring senior choreographers have learned in their time at VCU Dance, and thus it is appropriate that the overall theme of the show is the idea of people constantly changing.

BREAKing creates a visual exploration of the result of suppressed tension caused by racial division during the 1970′s that is still present in modern society. Musical influences of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield will be brought to life by Sanchel’s six dancers to evoke the idea of separation ultimately creating a vicious cycle that seems never ending.

Were I the Wolf is a solo performed by David Claypoole that follows a man’s memory of transforming into a werewolf. The choreography tracks how he changes from man to beast; what he feels, hears, smells, sees, and how he copes with the monster inside him.

Sho’ah by Jordan Conrad-Burton exposes the emotional turbulence of experiencing a disastrous event. Inspired by her grandmother’s life in 1940s America, her five dancers embody the struggle of finding a shred of hope amidst their helplessness to change their situation

Deluge by Brianne Evason, explores the whirlwind of an uncontrollable event and how it can engulf and consume a person in overwhelming emotion. Her six dancers will evoke a sense of inescapable anxiety through movement that embodies a constant state of unravel.

These Temporary Scales by Chelsea Jones evokes the conversion of Saul, later known as the apostle Paul, in Acts chapter 9 of the Bible. With raw, vulnerable partnering, her 10 dancers endeavor Saul’s path through darkness and blindness, into light.

Five dancers show the juxtaposition of the textures of light and dark through a variance of speed, tempo, and momentum based movement. Stimulated by a black and white photograph, Corin Illsley’s Esculating plans to fuse perceptions such as strict lines and blurred spirals to create contrasts and spatial tension.

Continuum by Katrina Loheide explores shifts in vitality. Movement is the energy that causes a chain reaction to unfold and to continuously evolve. This piece explores the relationship of spontaneity, trust, connection, progression, and the juxtaposition of energy forces

Charlie Maybee’s An Ode to the Powerful and the Powerless, pins eight dancers against one as they explore the extremes of spatial confinement and freedom; stemming from historical relationships between groups of people having to compromise each-others personal freedoms in order to achieve their own.

At This Moment by Samantha Williams explores the highs and lows of relationships and how these situations affect you whether the outcome is positive or negative. The music selection for this work Legions by Zoe Keating is full of strings and abrupt sounds that pull you in.

2014 Spring Senior Project: Conversations is the tenth event of the 2013-2014 VCU Dance Season. VCU Department of Dance & Choreography is a community of highly motivated, disciplined and creative dancers who are interested in shaping the future of the field. We are committed to building and enlightening dance audiences in the University and Richmond communities while providing opportunities for artists to present and create work. Recognized by professional dancers and choreographers as “a place where things are happening,” VCU Dance offers a vibrant and stimulating atmosphere where students prepare for careers in dance. For more information, please contact VCU Dance at 804-828-1711.

For information on applications and auditions, visit: ” – VCUarts Dance and Choreography Dept.