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Betsi Graves

A child of an organist and guitarist from Plainville, Kansas, Graves rebelled against piano lessons at an early age, choosing instead to choreograph dance productions on abandoned stages for the neighborhood children. Her formal dance training began at age eight, when the family migrated to Orlando, Florida, where Graves studied contemporary ballet, jazz, and modern dance under the direction of Gaymarie Tomlinson and later, Orlando Ballet.  At the age of seventeen, she was selected by Mia Michaels to tour across the U.S. on full scholarship with LA Underground.

After pursuing an English degree at Boston College, Graves discovered her passion for teaching and began teaching ages 2-adult in ballet, jazz and contemporary genres at Harvard University (2004-2006), Boston College (2004-2010), Regis College (2012) and Boston Ballet (2002-2012). During this time, she performed as a modern dancer for Karen Murphy-Fitch’s Falling Flight Project and as a street performer for Theatre Mama and Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. She studied choreography at Jacob’s Pillow (summer 2012).

Graves then founded Urbanity Dance in June 2008 out of a personal desire to create.  The last four years have been a roller coaster of growth for Urbanity; the company was voted “Best of Boston” and is now considered the second most established company in Boston (after Boston Ballet). Urbanity hosts thirty dancers, one-hundred students and reaches eighty kids everyday in the Boston community. 

As a choreographer, Graves has won national choreography awards and serves a judge for competitions throughout New England.  Her choreography is regularly commissioned by companies and studios across the United States, and has been considered “soulful and inspiring,” “unique and full of energy,” and “gutsy and culturally poignant.”  Her work has garnered grant support from Massachusetts Cultural Council, the City of Boston and Boston Dance Alliance. In November, 2010, Graves received a grant to choreograph a 90-minute contemporary dance production “The Story of Stuff” for which she ventured to Guatemala to choreograph through an independent residency in June, 2010.  Theater credits include Contemporary Theatre of Boston’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (June, 2010), Missa Luba, an African Opera, for UMASS (December, 2011), and an original musical, Six Pair of Hands, for Regis College and Boston Ballet’s Choreography Workshop (January, 2010). 

Upcoming commissions include new work for Commonwealth Ballet, Plymouth State University, Hyatt Hotel Boston and a flash mob at Hynes Convention Center. In 2012-2013 Urbanity will be performing Graves’ original contemporary dance revue, Within the Lines, a journey through SOWA, plus new works for the Women in Dance series at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, First Night Boston, and Urbanity’s Spring Revue YOU ARE ________.

Graves currently teaches at Urbanity Dance and leads master classes around the United States; recent workshops and/or residencies included Sam Houston University, Endicott College, EarthDance and Mass MOCA.

Betsi Graves CV

Press Quotes

“Graves is a choreographer in full command of her space.  Does it look easy? It’s not.”  -French Clements of Dance Magazine

“By the end of Graves’ lively Latin-inspired choreography, the audience was smiling, clapping, and there were even a few screams of delight.” -Kathleen Conn, Independent Dance Critic

“Betsi Graves is a little bit of Natalie Portman from Black Swan, a little bit of Milla Kunis from Black Swan and probably a whole lot of sick of getting that comparison. Attention Hollywood: we’re gonna need a few more psycho-sexual ballet-themed thrillers. Get on that, wouldja?” -J. Pat, The Weekly Dig

“Graves clearly set the tone that Urbanity was not going to aim for the lowest common denominator in dance.” - Kristen House, The Heights   

“Graves’ choreography in A Midsummer Night’s Dream was ASTONISHING. (I really liked it.)” -Larry Stark, The Theater Mirror

“Graves’ work is highly emotional, startling, and expressive. I was about to burst into tears any number of times watching the dancers and absorbing their lovely lines of choreography.  The show moved me in my belly, like listening to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Something primeval was touched, and every time a dancer left the stage I was aware of the leavetaking.” -Tom Kaplan-Maxfield, Independent Arts Critic

“It’s only sophomore year for Betsi Graves’ Urbanity Dance, but the troupe looks stronger than it has any right to, with more dancers, more fans (the performance I saw nearly sold out) and more artistic ambition that companies twice (or gosh, even three times!) its tender age.” Thomas Garvey, The Hub Review

“The crowd favorite of the night was definitely "Funkytown," choreographed by Betsi Graves. This was the most creative and gutsy act of the night, and the dancers created unique moves such as a “giant worm.” - Jaclyn Rada, The Heights



Urbanity Dance exists to inspire, engage, and empower individuals and communities through the art of dance and movement.