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 Please contact 503-925-3898 or email for more information.

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

Viennese Ball 2017

Feb.22, 2017

Northwest Dance Theatre had the honor of performing January 2017 at the Austrian American Society of Oregon’s 30th annual Viennese Ball. This was NWDT’s 25th year performing for the Viennese Ball and the Austrian Society members said it was the best ever. NWDT founder and artistic director, June Taylor-Dixon, choreographed a waltz set to the “Blue Danube,” a six minute piece that the dancers learned in just four short rehearsals. Miss June said, “the girls looked beautiful and danced like pros. I was so proud of them.” To learn more about Northwest Dance Theatre and our upcoming spring production, A Festival of Dance, please visit or contact us at

Spring 2017 Workshop with Leonid Shagalov

Feb.14, 2017

We are proud to announce that Northwest Dance Theatre will be offering a Character Workshop with Leonid Shagalov on February 17th, 2017, from 6-7:30pm and 18th 5-6:30pm at June Taylor’s School of Dance! Character dancing is a rich form of dance requiring artistry, musicality, and full commitment to the form, which is also a staple of many classical ballets. We are honored to host this event so young artists in Intermediate 1 and 2 or of equivalent training from across the Portland Metro Area can benefit from the opportunity to study with Mr. Shagalov. After receiving his training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the State University of Theatrical Arts in Moscow, Mr. Shagalov performed with many companies including the Moscow Academic Light Opera and the Beriozka Academic Dance Company of Russia as a soloist and a principal dancer. Mr. Shagalov has been the character dance instructor for the prestigious San Francisco Ballet School since 2004. Please click here to download the registration form and contact NWDT at 503-925-3898 or email for more information.





Nutcracker Tea 2016 Gratitude

Dec.19, 2016

Many thanks to our wonderful patrons and brilliant dancers, artistic director, crew, parent members and volunteers who made all seven sold-out performances of A Nutcracker Tea 2016 such a fantastic success.

This program run proved to be particularly trying as weather conditions hindered our usual rehearsal process and theatre preparation time. The weather even forced the theatre to close and us to reschedule one of our evening shows, but our dancers and production team handled these challenging events with graceful professionalism. We are so proud of them all!

We are also filled with heartfelt gratitude for the support of our donors and patrons. Thank for letting us share the joy of dance with you and for making NWDT possible!

We wish everyone a very happy rest of the holiday season and hope to see you all again in April for A Festival of Dance!


#GivingTuesday 2016

Nov.28, 2016

NWDT is dedicated to fulfilling its mission in making dance accessible to the community. We are committed to providing aspiring young artists the opportunity to perform and enrich the lives of others through dance. Right now our dancers, artistic director, and the production team are busy preparing to perform A Nutcracker Tea for nearly 3,000 audience members. They are also bringing this heartwarming production directly to the community as part of our annual outreach efforts. This past holiday weekend our dancers performed for the residents of Avamere Retirement Home, and on December 3rd, 2016 at 11:00am they will perform for young children and families at the Tualatin Public Library. Then, as soon as January starts, they will begin working in earnest to prepare for our spring mixed-bill production featuring works from La Bayadère, “A Night in Tunisia” – a Jazz suite by Laura Haney, and more. (Performances will be held April 8-9, 2017 – stay tuned for more info to come!)

unknown#GivingTuesday is a campaign that is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a way to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities by supporting their favorite non-profit organizations. This year we ask that you consider choosing Northwest Dance Theatre as one of the organizations worthy of your support.

In the words of Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Sarah Lamb, “There is service in art, there is worth in expressing emotion and truth through the idiom of ballet and dance. Without art, theater, music and dance, the world would be an emotionless void and the highs and lows of life would be lost.” Please take a moment to make a tax-deductible donation or explore our sponsorship opportunities to learn more about how you can help us bring beauty to the world and touch the lives of our community members through dance.

Every donation makes a difference, regardless of size. NWDT exists because of the generosity of individuals like you! Thank you for making NWDT possible.

NWDT Community Sponsorship Opportunities

Oct.16, 2016

DSC01057Northwest Dance Theatre is dedicated to providing performing opportunities for young artists, affordable quality productions, and programs that bring dance directly to underserved members of the community. These services are made possible because of the generous support from our patrons and sponsors, as ticket sales only cover a small portion of production costs. Come be a part of the NWDT family and help us enrich the community with the gift of dance! Please click here to be directed to our Arts People donation page or contact us at to set up your tax-deductible donation.

Your support helps us make NWDT’s mission and artistic vision possible!

NWDT is thankful for the generosity of contributions made on all giving levels, and wishes to show this gratitude with the following community sponsorship benefits:

Gold Sponsor – (only 5 available) $5,000*
• Recognition as one of our show sponsors announced at beginning of each show
• Personal plaque or sign set up in our lobby at each show
• Logo recognition on Northwest Dance Theatre web site
• Logo included on all printed or promotional materials
• A full page black and white ad included in our Nutcracker Tea program
• Recognition on Social Media-Facebook page
• Invitation to a studio rehearsal
• 6 Complimentary tickets to our spring performance
• Recognition on our complimentary DVD

Silver Sponsor – $3,000- 4,999
• Personal plaque or sign set up in our lobby at each show
• Logo recognition on Northwest Dance Theatre web page
• A full page black and white ad included in our Nutcracker Tea program
• Recognition on Social Media-Facebook page
• 4 Complimentary tickets to our spring performance

Bronze Sponsor- $1,000-2,999
• Personal plaque or sign set up in our lobby at each show
• Logo recognition on Northwest Dance Theatre web page
• A full page black and white ad included in our Nutcracker Tea program
• Recognition on Social Media-Facebook page
• 2 Complimentary tickets to our spring performance

Individual Donor Levels (as displayed in each show program)
• Grand Benefactor ($1,000+)
• Director’s Circle ($500-999)
• Choreographer’s Circle ($250-499)**
• Dancer’s Circle ($100-249)
• Patrons ($5-99)


*In kind donations are accepted
**1/4 page ad for free or an invitation to a studio rehearsal

Support NWDT and shop online at AmazonSmile

Oct.7, 2016

We have exciting news! Now you can support NWDT, your local youth ballet company, by choosing NWDT as your nonprofit of choice when you shop on AmazonSmile! The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price each time you make an eligible AmazonSmile purchase. NWDT would not be able to provide performing opportunities for these talented young artists or bring outreach programs to the underserved members of our community without your help.

Thank you for continuing to make NWDT possible!

Photo by James McGrew

Photo by James McGrew

A Nutcracker Tea 2016 Auditions

Sep.12, 2016
Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin (guest dancer from Ballet Idaho) and Mia Kimura

Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin (guest dancer from Ballet Idaho) and Mia Kimura (NWDT company dancer)

Nutcracker season is in the air! Guest dancer auditions for A Nutcracker Tea 2016 are open to the public, and will be held Saturday, September 24th, for ages seven and older at June Taylor’s School of Dance in Tualatin. Audition times are as follows (please allow one hour for each audition):

5:00 p.m. Ages 7 & 8
5:15 p.m. Ages 9 & 10
5:45 p.m. Ages 11 & older
6:30 p.m. Boys ages 7 & older

Performances will be held at the PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center on Dec 10-12 and December 16-18, 2016. Come be a part of this magical production! Please contact NWDT Student Coordinator Gail Anderson at (503) 925-3898 or via e-mail at for more information.

(Photo by Carrigg Photography & Design)

2016-2017 Season Company Auditions

May.3, 2016

We’re looking forward to beginning our 28th year this fall, and we’re inviting preprofessional young dancers to attend company auditions on May 20th and 21st, 2016, at June Taylor’s School of Dance! Company members have the opportunity to gain performance experience, work with innovative choreographers, explore different styles of dance, improve technique, increase choreography learning skills, and more. For more information, please contact us at 503-925-3898 or

NWDT Audition Flyer 2016-2017 pdf

Thank you all for a wonderful 2015-2016 performing year!

Apr.23, 2016

Thank you to our dancers, artistic directors, guest choreographers, guest performers, theatre crew, parents, and volunteers who made Peter and the Wolf and Other Works 2016 such a beautiful production! Thank you to the Dennis Spaight Choreography Trust for allowing us to perform Spaight’s magnificent “Rhapsody in Blue,” and thank you to Carol Shults for setting this brilliant work on our dancers with such great care and gracious support. And most of all, thank you to you, our audience and community members, for supporting our dancers and making NWDT’s 27th season possible. We are grateful for each chance to share our passion for dance with you!

We look forward to beginning our 28th year this fall and bringing the joy of dance to all of you!