Tickets On Sale Now!

Oct.16, 2017

Get your tickets for Northwest Dance Theatre’s “Nutcracker Tea”!

Choose from 7 performances.

Saturday, December 9 @ 2:00p

Saturday, December 9 @ 7:00p

Sunday, December 10 @ 2:00p

Friday, December 15 @ 7:00p

Saturday, December 16 @ 2:00p

Saturday, December 16 @ 7:00p

Sunday, December 17 @ 2:00p

Tickets sell out fast! Don’t wait to purchase!

We hope to see everyone at this year’s fantastic production held at Portland Community College Sylvania Campus Performing Arts Center.

For questions please email tickets@nwdt.org or leave a voicemail at 503-925-3898. Thank you and see you at the show!

Help Support Northwest Dance Theatre

Aug.1, 2017

DSC01265It is our mission to make dance accessible for all by providing educational outreach programs and quality productions at low-cost ticket rates, while creating opportunities for young emerging dancers to grow in their art form as they share the gift of dance and the performing arts with the community. But we are able only to exist and put our NWDT founder and artistic director June Taylor’s vision into motion because of our patrons, donors, and sponsors. Ticket sales actually only cover a small portion of production costs, but each tax-deductible donation helps us provide young dancers the opportunity to perform and serve the public through affordable performances and free educational outreach programs that are made accessible to all members of our community. You can make a difference. Whether it is by making a tax-deductible direct donation through Arts People (learn more NWDT community sponsorship benefits), or by choosing Northwest Dance Theatre as your nonprofit of choice for each AmazonSmile purchase you make throughout the year, your support makes NWDT possible.

Thank you for supporting NWDT and helping us touch the lives and hearts of all ages with the joy of dance!

 

Support NWDT on Amazon Prime Day 2017

Jul.10, 2017

Amazon’s Prime Day starts July 10, 2017! Deals start at 9:00 pm ET tonight, July 10, and run through July 11. When you #StartWithaSmile on #PrimeDay, Amazon donates to Northwest Dance Theater!

Shop for great deals at smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3098613

By choosing Northwest Dance Theatre as your nonprofit of choice on AmazonSmile, you can support NWDT, your local youth ballet company when you shop throughout the year. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price each time you make an eligible AmazonSmile purchase.

Northwest Dance Theatre would not be able to provide performing opportunities for our talented young artists or bring outreach programs to the underserved members of our community without your help. Thank you for continuing to make Northwest Dance Theatre possible!

Photo by Lindsay Hile Photography

NWDT Company Auditions for the 2017/2018 Season

May.17, 2017

We’re looking forward to beginning our 29th year this fall! We are inviting pre-professional young dancers to attend company auditions on June 4th, 2017, at June Taylor’s School of Dance located at 19318 SW Mohave Court, Tualatin, OR 97062. Audition times are as follows:

Returning members: 1:00-2:30pm
New members: 3:00-4:30pm

There is a $10 audition fee, which can be made payable at the door by cash or check only. Dancers are asked to arrive early to complete registration and warm up, as the audition will begin with center work. Pointe shoes (for girls) and jazz shoes are required for the audition. Dancers must be at least 12 years of age and have had at least six months of pointe work training. For more information, please contact us at 503-925-3898 or office@nwdt.org

NWDT dancers have the opportunity to improve technique, learn classical and contemporary works, explore different styles of dance, increase choreography learning skills, gain pre-professional performing experience, and work with renown choreographers. Here are some words from NWDT alumni about their experience as NWDT company members:

“NWDT has helped me build the strength and sense of commitment I need to dance in college and pursue a dance career. NWDT has been a pivotal part of my dance training, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without it.”

“My work with NWDT not only pushed me to be a better dancer, but also helped me in academic studies. I learned how to manage my time efficiently and to stay calm even under stress.”

“The extra four or five hours a week I spend in the studio for company rehearsals has helped me improve my technique because I get to dance more, so I get stronger by coming to rehearsal.”

Photo by Lindsay Hile Photography

Thank you all and farewell to our 2016/2017 Season!

Apr.11, 2017

Many thanks to our wonderful audience members who joined us this past weekend for A Festival of Dance! Thank you to our brilliant NWDT dancers, Artistic Director June Taylor-Dixon, choreographers, guest dancers, production crew, parent members and volunteers who made this production such an incredible experience! Well done everyone – we are so proud of you all. And thank you to our donors and patrons for letting us share the joy of dance with you and for making NWDT possible. We look forward to seeing you all again in December for A Nutcracker Tea 2017!

NWDT full company cast of La Bayaderè 2017 with NWDT Founder and Artistic Director June Taylor-Dixon

Meet Felicia Zhang

Apr.7, 2017

Each NWDT dancer brings an energy to the stage that is uniquely powerful and beautiful. Ever since Felicia Zhang first came to join the company as a freshman at Tualatin High School, she has approached each role with enthusiasm and poise. And as you will see by her performance this weekend in Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère (set by June Taylor-Dixon), M’Liss Stephenson’s Clear Vision, and Leonid Shagalov’s Córdoba, Felicia possesses a quiet strength and distinctly graceful quality that stuns the audience.

Over the years Felicia has continued to grow both artistically and technically. She is a brilliant source of positive energy for her fellow peers through the rehearsal and performance process. It is a bittersweet time saying farewell to our senior dancers, but it is also a beautiful feeling to see the incredible work they have accomplished in such a short period of time. We are very proud of Felicia’s wonderful accomplishments both on and offstage! We wish Felicia the very best this performance weekend, and we look forward to seeing all Felicia will accomplish as she begins this next life chapter!

We invite you to join us for A Festival of Dance where you can see the next generation of brilliant young professionals on stage this weekend, April 8th and 9th, 2017! It is going to be an amazing experience you won’t wish to miss.

Performing Arabian solo from A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo by Lindsay Hile Photography

Where do you train?

I train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

When did you join NWDT?

I joined NWDT during my freshman year.

What is your favorite role in A Festival of Dance?

This weekend I’m looking forward to dancing the modern piece, Clear Vision, by M’Liss Stephenson the most. The style is drastically different from the type of dance that I am use to, and I feel the most relaxed while performing that piece.

What has been your favorite role to perform?
My favorite role to dance is the Waltz of the Flowers in the Nutcracker. I think the music is really beautiful, and the choreography fits the tone perfectly. I was part of the role for two years, so I was really comfortable with the choreography, and I was able to focus on the details to make the dance even more polished.

What have you learned while dancing with NWDT?

A Nutcracker Tea 2015 (Felicia on right, Lauren Wattenburg on left, and Sarah Valesano in the center | Photo: Carrigg Photography & Design

My work with NWDT not only pushed me to be a better dancer, but also helped me in academic studies. I learned how to manage my time efficiently and to stay calm even under stress. I was able to balance school work even with the amount of dancing that I was doing because I found that dancing was a much needed relaxation. It allowed me to step out of my usual environment for a while and adjust by doing what I love the most. Also, by performing on stage, I learned to only focus on my actions instead of the pressure around me. I learned to trust on my own ability.

What are your future plans and goals?

For the future, I will be majoring in International Relations and Mathematics at Northeastern University in Boston. I want to continue dancing because I’m not ready to give it up yet, and I will also have lots of opportunities to watch Boston Ballet’s performances on my free time!

What is on your mind as you prepare for your last NWDT performance?

As I prepare for my last performance, I’m a little sad to leave something that has been so important to me for the past 4 years. But I am looking forward to making my last performance my best one.

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.

Meet Lauren Wattenburg

Apr.4, 2017

The anticipation and excitement in the air is contagious as Lauren Wattenburg and her fellow dancers prepare for this weekend’s mixed-bill production of A Festival of Dance. Lauren brings a vibrant energy to every role she meets and positive enthusiasm to each step of the rehearsal process. Through the last few years, Lauren has come to brighten the stage with her graceful poise, powerful technique, and long elegant lines – as you will see April 8th and 9th, 2017.

Lauren placed first in the 2016 RAD Canada Dance Challenge, adjudicated by Lynn Wallace (pictured here).

After training with June Taylor-Dixon and traveling twice to Canada for coaching with recently retired Royal Academy of Dance Examiner Lynette Kelley, Lauren entered in February of 2017 for her Solo Seal examination – a performance award that is determined on a pass or fail basis and is only open to RAD students who have passed their Advanced II examination with Distinction. Lauren also auditioned and was accepted to Ballet West Academy’s Summer Intensive and is on the waitlist for the very prestigious Royal Ballet School Summer Program in London. In 2016, Lauren was accepted to Boston Ballet’s summer program and attended Texas Ballet Theatre School’s summer program. She also traveled with her classmate and fellow company dancer, Sarah Valesano, to the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School in York, England, and trained with professionals from the Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet. In March 2016, she placed first in the RAD Canada Dance Challenge’s Advanced Division, which was adjudicated by Lynn Wallace, former artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance. In addition, Lauren has attended the June Taylor’s School of Dance Summer Intensive for the past six years as well as multiple training sessions with Lynette Kelley in Vancouver, B.C.

Lauren’s tenacious dedication, commitment to detail in the studio and heart-felt passion on stage will be missed, but we are very proud of her many accomplishments and excited to see what she will continue to accomplish! Come join us April 8th and 9th, 2017, and witness the magnificent work that Lauren and her fellow company artists have accomplished these past few months in preparation for A Festival of Dance: our dancers will move you.

Where do you train?

During the week I train in the Bend area where I live, but I primarily train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

When did you join NWDT?

I joined company in 2012 when I was in 8th grade.

What is your favorite role in A Festival of Dance?

Gamzatti in La Bayadère is my favorite role in A Festival of Dance. The role of Gamzatti is a delicate balance between grace and power, and I am grateful for the strength that I have gained from it. La Bayadère is a timeless ballet, and it’s an honor to perform this classic with the company. In addition, I’ve never had the opportunity to perform pas de deux or partnering work, and I’m looking forward to performing the pas de deux with Seth Parker.

What is your favorite company memory and performing role?

My favorite company memory and performing role was the Sugar Plum Fairy, which I performed during A Nutcracker Tea this last year. Performing this role had been a dream of mine since I was very young. Ever since I was seven years old, when I first saw the Moscow Ballet Company perform the Nutcracker in Reno, Nevada, I dreamed of one day dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy variation. After my first performance as Sugar Plum, I was overwhelmed by how amazing it felt to perform the role that I had dreamt of for so long.

Lauren Performing Sugar Plum Fairy in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

Another favorite company memory of mine is being able to dance alongside my best friend, Sarah Valesano. We have had the opportunity to perform many duets together, as well as share numerous roles, and I have loved experiencing company with her.

What do you love most about performing?

Lauren and Sarah performing duet from Dennis Spaight’s “Gloria” as part of 2015 Spring Production Peter and the Wolf and Other Works.

I love the feeling when I first step on stage. The audience is completely captivated, and nothing else seems to matter…that is when I feel the most present and focused. It is an amazing experience to be able to transport your audience to another world through your dancing, and to share the timeless art of dance. Performing is truly exhilarating, and it is my favorite part about dancing.

What challenges have you learned to overcome as a dancer?

I’ve learned how to deal with the mental blocks that can develop when I am faced with an obstacle. As a dancer, I have been pushed with various roles, styles, and movements that are challenging both mentally and physically. I’ve learned how to have the tenacity to keep working and never give up, and I’ve seen that with enough hard work and faith in myself, I can achieve more than I once thought possible. It is always incredibly rewarding when I look back and realize that what were once my greatest challenges, are now part of my daily routine.

What lessons have you learned while dancing with NWDT, and how has this helped your dance training and academic studies?

NWDT has helped me build the strength and sense of commitment I need to dance in college and pursue a dance career. NWDT has been a pivotal part of my dance training, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without NWDT and June Taylor’s School of Dance. As a dancer in NWDT I have learned that hard work, dedication, and passion are the keys to success. In order to be involved in NWDT, I’ve been commuting five hours round trip every weekend from Central Oregon while attending public school at Sisters High School. As a result, I miss at least one day of school each week, and I’ve had to develop time management and multitasking skills needed to maintain involvement in both school and dance. And all that work has paid off, as I’ve been nominated Valedictorian at my school! This entire experience has taught me how to be a self-starter in academics and dance, and it has helped me develop the work ethic needed to pursue both as fully as possible.

Who are you most thankful for and inspired by?

Lauren with NWDT Founder & Artistic Director June Taylor-Dixon after Solo Seal Exam February 2017.

In dance and in life, Miss June has been very inspiring to me. She exemplifies hard work and perseverance, and she is like a second mother figure to me. Her dedication to teaching, her students, and her passion for dance is incredible. There has never been a day where she hasn’t supported me through my endeavors, and she’s always there for all of her students in this way.

I’m also inspired by my Mom who has been by my side through everything. She has commuted with me back and forth every weekend between Bend and Tualatin for the past five years, while still being committed to her family and work. I am so thankful for my entire family – without the support of my Dad, Mom, and brother, none of this would be possible. I’m grateful that they’ve always encouraged me to follow my passion, and loved me unconditionally along the way. I will always be grateful for the unwavering support and encouragement from my family, and I am humbled by the selfless people that they are.

What are your future plans and goals?

I am going to attend Ballet West Academy’s summer program, and in the fall I will begin college at the University of Utah. I will be majoring in Ballet with a course emphasis that will enable me to go on to Physical Therapy and graduate work later on. At the moment, my primary goal is to pursue my passion for dance while I can.

What is on your mind as you prepare for your last NWDT performance?

I am grateful for all the opportunities NWDT has offered me, and the company will always hold a special place in my heart. I am also grateful for the people I’ve met along the way, such as Miss June and my fellow dancers, who have been with me on this journey. While it is sad to be preparing for my last NWDT performance, I am overcome by a feeling of gratitude for these last five years. On April 9th I may be taking my last bow as a company member, but NWDT has given me the strength and confidence to take the stage in the future.

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.

Meet Sarah Valesano

Apr.3, 2017

As a NWDT company member, Sarah Valesano is a shining example of positivity and resilience, and it is evident when you see her perform onstage. Sarah’s hard work is never ending. In rehearsals, she is always eager and devoted to practice, practice, practice till she reaches that next level of mastery. She participated in the very first Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) Dance Challenge competition to be held in the U.S. in 2015, and went on to compete in the 2016 R.A.D. Dance Challenge competition in Vancouver, B.C. Later in the summer of 2016, she attended the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School in York, England where she had the opportunity to train with renown professional dancers from the Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet alongside her fellow company dancer and classmate, Lauren Wattenburg.

During her years dancing with NWDT, Sarah’s stage presence has continued to deepen and reflect a rich range of artistry and technique. She has been a wonderful role model for younger dancers and her peers alike, as she leads by example with hard work, determination, poise, and grace. We wish her well this performance weekend, and while we will miss her presence here at NWDT, we look forward to seeing all she will accomplish in her future endeavors!

We invite you to join us this weekend for A Festival of Dance where you, too, can enjoy and share the great joy Sarah and all our NWDT dancers, as well as our guest artists – the MAC Company Dancers, will bring to this production!

 

When did you join NWDT, and where do you train?

I joined NWDT four years ago in 2013. I train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

What is your favorite role in A Festival of Dance?

Rehearsing “Danse Manu” solo from La Bayadère for A Festival of Dance 2017

My favorite role is my solo called “Danse Manu” in La Bayadère! It is a very joyful dance that fits my personality. The whole solo is me dancing around, trying to balance a jug on my head, which has been challenging but a fun experience. It is a very unique role that I have never done before, and I look forward to performing it.

What do you love most about performing?

After all the rehearsals and practice before the performance, my piece becomes engrained in my muscles. So, when I perform, I am able to relax and enjoy the music and movements as I dance. While the music plays, my body seems to just follow the music without any concerns. When this happens, it is an amazing feeling.

Who are you thankful for and who inspires you the most?

I am extremely thankful for my family who is my #1 support system. Always cheering me on through my years of dance, my family has genuinely cared about my interests. My dad is always involved in my dance life, either backstage, or asking me detailed questions about ballet on our way home from dance. My mom cheers me on through stressful ballet exams, tough roles, and travels alongside me for encouragement.

Sarah and Lauren performing in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 “Snow Scene” | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

Aside my wonderful family, I am thankful for my best friend and fellow dancer, Lauren Wattenburg. I can always count on her for support and a good laugh while at the studio. Only being friends for a few years, we have travelled the world together, been considered as twins by many, and have become the best of friends. Lauren inspires me daily by the way she is always striving to be a better dancer. We both know how to push each other to reach goals and to grow in our dancing.

I am extremely grateful for Miss June! She has challenged me to become a great dancer and committed hours upon hours to helping me perfect my technique and artistry of ballet. Miss June is a big reason why I love ballet. She knows how to encourage me, make dancing fun, and is always looking out for my best interests.

Lastly, I am inspired to dance by watching videos of the Royal Opera Ballet and other companies. I look up to Natalia Osipova, Darcey Bussell, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, and other ballerinas for motivation.

What has been your favorite role during your time at NWDT?

My favorite role was the Sugar Plum Fairy. Growing up, that has always secretly been my dream role. Last December, I was able to perform this role in NWDT’s Nutcracker Tea. It was definitely a difficult dance, but the opportunity to work so hard and perform it on stage was a dream come true.

Performing Sugar Plum Fairy in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

What is your favorite company memory?

There are so many amazing memories I have had in company, but one of my favorite times is the long break in-between two shows. I love being with all the girls while we eat our dinner and talk. We always put on warm fuzzy socks, wrap ourselves in blankets, and then rest in the auditorium before another show. It is such a fun time to be together and laugh as a company.

What is on your mind as you prepare for you last NWDT performance?

As my time with NWDT wraps up, I only can think of how I have been so incredibly blessed! These past few years with the company have created so many fond memories and experiences that I will always cherish. Though it is sad to leave, I cannot help but smile. My life has been made so sweet because of the lessons I have learned, and the friendships I have gained because of NWDT.

As I begin a new chapter in my life, pursuing a career in nursing at George Fox University, I still plan on taking ballet classes in my spare time between my studies. Although I am not seeking a career in ballet, dance will always be a great part of my life.

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.

Meet Helia Megowan

Mar.31, 2017

If you have seen Helia Megowan perform during the last four years with NWDT, you can agree that her lines, musicality, and immense stage presence are both powerful and exquisite. One of the youngest to join the company, her work ethic and dedication to dance as an art form – both in rehearsal and in the wings – is tireless. She does not rest on natural ability.

Rehearsing Nikiya solo from La Bayadère for NWDT’s A Festival of Dance program

In addition to performing in NWDT’s A Festival of Dance on April 8-9, 2017, she will also be entering for her Advanced II Royal Academy of Dance examination at June Taylor’s School of Dance in early April. In the beginning of 2017, she sent an audition DVD to the highly prestigious John Cranko School in Stuttgart Germany and was accepted to their three year trainee program, which is free of cost and will conclude with an exam for her to became a “staatlich geprüfte Tänzerin” meaning a state-certified classical dancer. Besides dancing all day, she will attend classes in German, English, Sociology as well as Music Theory and History, Dance History, Choreography, Makeup and Costumes. Helia was also accepted this year to the Paris Opéra Ballet School Summer Intensive and was placed in the “Superior” level, as well as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s summer program. She also received scholarship offers from San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive’s Program 2 and Houston Ballet Academy’s summer program. In 2016, she attended the School of American Ballet’s summer program on scholarship, attended class with Houston Ballet Academy over Spring Break, and in 2015 she attended the San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Intensive first program.

You can see her perform the Nikiya’s solo in La Bayadère on April 8th and 9th, 2017, as part of NWDT’s spring mixed-bill program, A Festival of Dance. We will miss seeing Helia perform with all of us here at NWDT, but we are proud of her hard work and accomplishments. We wish her well and look forward to seeing what she will continue to accomplish as a dancer and a performing artist in the years to come!

 

Where do you train?

I train at June Taylor’s School of Dance.

When did you join NWDT?

I joined NWDT in 2013.

What is your favorite company memory?

My favorite company memory is actually all the time we spend together in the dressing room getting ready to perform. We listen to music, help each other with makeup, and talk about the upcoming performances. It’s a great environment to prepare for a show in because everyone is so positive and friendly.

What do you love most about performing?

My favorite part of performing is the feeling when I first appear onstage – the wonder that the audience feels is priceless, and the story I create for them is worth more than I can say. Of course, I also love the dancing because you can simply enjoy the steps, without having to worry about each specific moment. I’m in a totally different place when I’m onstage.

Performing Snow Queen in A Nutcracker Tea 2016 | Photo: Lindsay Hile Photography

What has been your favorite role to dance? 

My favorite role was being the Snow Queen! The snow scene in and of itself is so beautiful, and I love the music. Getting to be a soloist in that part of the Nutcracker was an awesome feeling, and I think we really created a magical atmosphere for everyone watching the show. I also love it because it was created on me, so it showcased a lot of the things I did well 🙂

At SAB Summer School in 2016

What challenges have you learned to overcome as a dancer?

I have learned that not everything can be perfect on the first try, and that sometimes you have to be patient when trying to learn a step, or a piece of choreography, etc. I’ve also learned to put aside my own feelings and worries so that I can focus on the dancing, and not to let my apprehension or anxiety hold me back.

How has your work with NWDT helped your dance training and academic studies? 

I have definitely benefitted from all the stage time, and the opportunity to perform bigger rolls for an audience. The rep we do is also very diverse, which I love. We perform both original classics and brand new jazz and modern pieces. That has really helped me stretch my abilities and range as a dancer. As for school, being at the studio all the time has made me really manage my time wisely so that I don’t have too much homework when I get home at night. I’ve learned to be more motivated and procrastinate less.

Who are you thankful for and who inspires you the most? 

Rehearing role of Nikiya from La Bayadère

That’s a big question – I’m very thankful to my first ever ballet teacher, Damara Bennett, who let me know that ballet was really a possibility and instilled a driven, focused mindset when it came to ballet. She let us know that ballet was not just pink tutus and fun! This also would not be possible without my parents, who drive me to every practice and pay for everything from classes to leotards. I think we’ve spent close to $6,700 on pointe shoes alone! And, last but not least, Ms. June is the teacher who provided me with the skills and technique that I will ultimately need for a career in dance. Without her, there is no way I would be where I am today. She has been an amazing teacher, and a wonderful, caring person to work with. She pays attention to every detail and devotes so much of her time to us. I couldn’t be more grateful for her.

I’m also constantly inspired by ballerinas like Svetlana Zakharova, Maria Kotchetkova, and Natalia Ospipova, to name a few. I love watching my favorite companies and dancers!

What is your favorite piece/role in this year’s spring show and why? 

It’s hard to decide! I love La Bayadère, first and foremost, because it’s such a classic and I have the opportunity to dance Nikiya’s solo in it (my costume is amazing!!!). We’ve worked really hard to match the original Petipa version. I also love our modern piece, Clear Vision, because it feels so good to dance and it has such a chilling effect. It is an awesome piece, and I really think it will leave a lasting impression on our audience.

What are your future plans and goals?

I have a pretty busy summer and school year ahead of me in terms of ballet! I’ll be spending four weeks in San Francisco at SFB’s second program in July, and then I am moving to Germany to train at the John Cranko School. I am extremely lucky to have been chosen for their three year trainee program, and I can’t wait to see what this opportunity brings! I’ll be training all day, but because I’m only a sophomore, I’ll also be attending school at night. It sounds pretty daunting, and the competition is tough,  but I am so excited to be a part of the program – I might even get to perform with the Stuttgart Ballet! Thankfully, Ms. June has prepared me well for a program such as this one.
What lessons will you take away with you from your time with the company?

I have learned to really see things from other people’s perspectives –  why they made this decision, why they are acting this way – and that, along with the ability to work with many different personalities, will be extremely helpful in “real life!” I’ve learned to put others first, to be patient and fair as part of a team. Yes, ballet is definitely an individual’s art, but you cannot be a soloist all the time. You work together as a corps just as much as you get to dance on your own, and it is important to understand that sometimes the beauty is not necessarily in standing out but in making a beautiful, living picture together.

What is on your mind as you prepare for your last NWDT performance?

It’s hard to believe that this is my last performance – that hasn’t really sunk in yet! I’m thinking about making the most of our time together, and working hard to create a wonderful performance that our audience will enjoy. I really want to get in character and make this our best show yet. I’m also so thankful to have been a part of NWDT, and I’m thinking about all the amazing people I would never have met if I hadn’t joined. I’m so lucky to have found them!

Warming-up backstage during A Nutcracker Tea 2014

 

Tickets for A Festival of Dance run $12-18 ($10 for youth)* and are available at nwdt.org/tickets. Showtimes are April 8 at 7pm to April 9 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

*Performance week special offer: Get one free youth ticket with one adult ticket purchase when you enter discount code “freechild”.

An Interview with Laura Haney

Mar.4, 2017

by Thorey Mountain

Laura Haney, an extraordinary jazz dancer, teacher, and choreographer, was a member of River North Dance Company and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, as well as a company member of BodyVox from 2005-2008. She is a Stott-certified Pilates instructor and has taught numerous dance workshops and master classes across the country. Laura currently directs the dance program and student company at Multnomah Athletic Club, and teaches at June Taylor’s School of Dance. She speaks here with Thorey Mountain in an interview about her upcoming new work that will be premiered at Northwest Dance Theatre’s spring mixed-bill production, A Festival of Dance, next month at Portland Community College Sylvania’s Performing Arts Center.

TM: Northwest Dance Theatre is delighted that you are choreographing a piece for “A Festival of Dance”. Could you tell me a little about it?

LH: The whole piece is entitled “Blue Note Suite” but it is comprised of four different sections, “Night in Tunisia” composed by Dizzy Gillespie, “La Vie en Rose” which was Piaf’s signature song, but the Louis Armstrong version, and “Dance Me to the End of Love” written by Leonard Cohen and performed by Madeleine Peyroux. The final section is Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk”.

TM: What was your inspiration?

LH: I had choreographed “Night in Tunisia” some time back and I always felt that it would be good to use it in a larger work. “Dance Me to the End of Love” is also my choreography. The other two pieces have been choreographed by my colleague, Maria Tucker. Our styles are very similar.

TM: You direct the dance program and student company at the Multnomah Athletic Club and traditionally the MAC dancers have performed two or three pieces at the NWDT Spring Performance, but as a separate entity. What is different on this occasion?

LH: MAC Company dancers will again perform three of their own numbers, but we have also added a collaborative piece with NWDT. Some of the MAC students are dancing in the first section with the NWDT dancers, and both NWDT and MAC Company dancers are dancing in the final section. They each have their own section in the middle.

TM: I believe that you are a jazz dance purist! I know that you feel that it is important that students learn classic jazz dance technique and styles. Your initial training was classical ballet. When did you first become interested in jazz dance?

LH: I trained in classical ballet with just a little jazz and modern. When I was fifteen I saw a performance of the Hubbard Street Dance Company and this changed my whole path. Electrified by what I saw, I knew where I wanted to go!

TM: How did you set out to achieve your dream?

LH: I dealt with pointe shoes for another couple of years, and when I was a senior in high school I attended an audition and was awarded a scholarship to study at Lou Conte’s studio, which is the home of the Hubbard Street dancers. So after high school I moved to Chicago, danced all day and worked in a coffee shop at night and weekends. After four or five months I was offered a contract with River North Dance Chicago. Eventually my dream came true and I joined Hubbard Street. I danced with them for seven years. Although the jazz element was still very important to them at that time, I also danced in some works by foremost modern/contemporary choreographers including Twyla Tharp, Nacho Duato and Jyri Killian.

TM: What advice do you give to pre-professional students who are hoping to have careers as professional dancers?

LH: The most important aspect to succeeding as a performer nowadays is versatility. Ballet technique is fundamental, there is no substitute for it. That is the foundation, but it is essential to be able to dance jazz, modern, tap, and even hip hop. I also encourage students to train their singing voices and acting skills. If I hadn’t had the versatility, I wouldn’t have had a career. After I left Hubbard Street I toured nationally as a featured performer in the Broadway show “Fosse” and was a cast member of the Broadway musical “A Christmas Carol”.

Versatility is alive and well with the NWDT students, due to the choice of program and careful guidance of artistic director, June Taylor Dixon. As well as performing excerpts from the ballet “La Bayadère” and Haney’s “Blue Note Suite”, the dancers will be showcasing their modern dance technique in “Almost Clear” by M’Liss Stephenson, to music by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds, and in Erin Zintek’s “A Scenic World” by artist Beirut.

Performances for A Festival of Dance will be held April 8, 2017 at 7pm and April 9 at 2pm. Tickets are on sale at nwdt.org/tickets. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.

“Possibility” choreographed by Laura Haney for NWDT’s 2014 spring production. (Photo by James McGrew)

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NWDT operates as a non-profit organization. Many of the performances and outreach programs wouldn’t be possible without the donations and support of our sponsors. With this funding, we are able to bring our shows to venues that allow the public to see our companies talented dancers perform. In 2013, we sold out all 7 of our Nutcracker performances. That’s over 3,000 people! We couldn’t be more proud. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to NWDT, please click here to contact our Sponsor Director.