Mandy Helmlinger

Founder, Artistic Director

Mandy Helmlinger Richmond Urban Dance

Mandy Helmlinger is a Richmond native who does not fit the typical persona of an urban dance entrepreneur. This 40-something soccer mom from the suburbs is consistently tripping people out with her unexpected street dance skills.

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and choreography from VCU, and more than 35 years of dance training and experience in performing, teaching, choreographing and directing, Mandy is now dabbing her way into the business side of this profession, and feels that God has given her a clear vision as to what her part in this industry is. While there is nothing “thug” about Mandy, she gets a kick out of her dancers telling her she is, and loves when new people walk into her class and unexpectedly say, “now this is REAL hip-hop.”

Although Mandy grew up training in classical dance styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, and modern, she has always had a love for street dance. Hence its name, “street” dance was never taught in the studios. Because of this, Mandy often found herself drawing the schoolyard crowds in as she organized hip-hop and breakdance sessions and shows out on the blacktop during recess. And while hip-hop is now taught in most traditional studios as its popularity continues to soar, Mandy still seeks for the authenticity of this style of dance. Her weekly “street sessions” aim to help keep the street in the dance.

Mandy’s education and training have given her a good overall foundation necessary to run and maintain a business of this sort; however, she takes pride in the fact that most of her staff and leading dancers have had no formal dance training. She is passionate about taking their raw talent and providing them with the means and opportunities to flourish…just as any trained and educated dancer would. Mandy loves entertaining people, but also respects this style of dance as a form of art and expression, as well as a form of worship. She believes that dance is not only a discipline, but also a tool for outreach and investment in the lives of others.

Prior to founding Richmond Urban Dance, Mandy toured all over the country performing, and worked in the ministry at the Richmond Outreach Center and ran the performing arts department for 10 years. She is married to her high school sweetheart, now pastor and police officer, Jason Helmlinger. They have 4 active and talented children, all whom also dance, produce music and videos, choreograph, and teach.

Mandy continues to refine her craft and plans to dance until she either physically can’t, or until her kids tell her she isn’t cool anymore. Bets are she will eventually be a street-dancing grandmother.