Dancing to evolve: Meet Ella Huggin

Apr.15, 2016
As Ella Huggin and her fellow dancers prepare for this weekend’s mixed-bill production of Peter and the Wolf and Other Works many mixed emotions hang in the balance. The end of the performance season always has a slight lull it, but as a senior this spring performance is especially bittersweet for Ella. As you will see with this weekend’s performances, Huggin lights up the stage with grace and power. Ella has shown a resilient dedication to dance as she has been commuting from Bend, Oregon weekly to rehearse with her fellow dancers. It has been wonderful to see Ella grow as a dancer these past few years. She will be greatly missed, but we are also excited for her as she prepares to begin this next chapter to move towards achieving her academic goals. We are very proud of Ella and her achievements, both on and off stage, and wish her all the very best in all her future endeavors. We hope you join us this weekend for Peter and the Wolf and Other Works in celebration of Ella and all our lovely Northwest Dance Theatre artists!
1) When did you join NWDT?

I joined NWDT in 2012 when I was a sophomore in high school.

Carrigg Photography & Design

Carrigg Photography & Design

2) What is your favorite company memory?

My favorite company memory would probably be going through the process of going from rehearsal to show with all the other girls.

3) What do you love most about performing?

I love the feeling of accomplishment you feel after each show.

Photo by Carrigg Photography & Design

Carrigg Photography & Design

4) What was your favorite role to dance and why?

My favorite role was actually snow corps. There is so much work that goes into that one dance and once it reaches the stage, it’s just fun to get to dance in the snow with your friends.  Everyone is so elated during and afterwards, it’s just an amazing feeling.

5) Who has inspired you the most?

Each and every dancer has inspired me in a different way.  As I have gotten to know everyone individually, they have all shown me various ways in which I could not only improve my dancing, but my overall character as well.

Photo: Carrigg Photograhy & Design

Carrigg Photography & Design

6) What are your plans for college and what lesson(s) will you take away with you from your time with the company?

I am currently deciding between the University of Oregon and the University of Utah for my studies next year.  At the moment, I plan on studying anthropology and French.  I am undecided on whether or not I am going to keep dancing next year, but I will continue to train to keep my options open.

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

I am a bit sad but excited for what’s to come in my future. I will miss everyone so much!  I’ve made so many great friends here and I love each and every one of them.

As our dancers and directors prepare for this exciting and family-friendly performance program, we invite you to select and purchase tickets for Peter and the Wolf and other works in advance as seating is limited. Tickets are available for purchase online running $10-18. Free event parking is available, and performance times are April 16 at 7pm and 17 at 2:00pm, 2016. For further event or ticket information, please call 503-925-3898 or email office@nwdt.org.

NWDT Dancers Featured in Tualatin Times edition of Portland Tribune

Apr.14, 2016

“I’m hoping that (audiences) just have a fun family experience where they can enjoy the passion of ballet and dance that we can bring to them, and just have an enjoyable experience with us. You don’t have to understand ballet in order to enjoy it, and that’s part of the beauty of it, you can still enjoy it just as much even if you’re not a dancer yourself because of the performance quality that we try to bring.”

~ Lauren Wattenburg, NWDT company dancer

A lovely feature story by Mark Miller at the Tualatin Times on NWDT’s upcoming performance of Peter and the Wolf and Other Works April 16-17, 2016.

See our Performances & Tickets page to take advantage of our buy two get one free performance week ticket offer!


Peter and the Wolf and Other Works 2016

Apr.8, 2016

Come join us April 16th at 7pm and April 17th at 2pm, 2016, at the Portland Community College Sylvania Performing Arts Center for Peter and the Wolf and Other Works! In addition to the family favorite story ballet Peter and the Wolf, which is choreographed by NWDT artistic directors June Taylor-Dixon and Gretta Marchek, we are proud to present former Oregon Ballet Theatre associate director and resident choreographer Dennis Spaight’s “Rhapsody in Blue” set to the timeless music of George Gershwin with permission of the Dennis Spaight Choreography Trust.

The dancers will also perform original works by Cameron Smith-Purandare, former soloist of Houston ballet and principal with Florida Ballet, and Laura Haney former BodyVox dancer and current director of the dance program and student company at the Multnomah Athletic Club.  The MAC Company Dancers will be dancing three pieces choreographed by Selina Di Pronio, Cameron Dupon and Laura herself. These pieces consist of various contemporary styles including modern, jazz and hip-hop.  Laura Haney has also choreographed a piece on Northwest Dance Theatre titled “Vertigogo”.

Tickets are available for purchase online at $10 for youth and $12-18 for adults. Free event parking is available. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email office@nwdt.org for more information.


Celebrating Dennis Spaight with “Rhapsody in Blue”

Feb.29, 2016

Last spring our dancers performed “Gloria” as part of our 2015 Peter and the Wolf and Other Works production. This beautiful work by former Oregon Ballet Theatre associate director and resident choreographer Dennis Spaight set to Vivaldi’s eponymous mass proved to be profoundly moving for our dancers and the audience. Working with Carol Shults, repetiteur of the Dennis Spaight’s Choreography Trust, was a great part of this inspirational learning experience. Each dancer grew through the process of rehearsing and performing Spaight’s “Gloria.” It was beautiful to witness both on and off stage.

This year we are proud to perform Spaight’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” another piece by Dennis Spaight set to the elegant and sophisticated sound that is George Gershwin. The dancers are enjoying the challenges of the piece and learning the musical intricacies of the choreography with Carol Shults.

Dennis Spaight’sRhapsody in Blue” was originally created in 1987 for Ballet Oregon. Carol Schults worked side-by-side with Spaight as the company’s ballet mistress. She said, “Ballet Oregon’s repertoireScreen Shot 2016-02-16 at 2.05.41 PM needed a full-company piece that would work as a “closer,” and I suggested Gershwin’s iconic 1924 composition. (This was before United Airlines appropriated it for advertising!) Dennis, as always, was anxious to make a piece that could be performed with live music and the Rhapsodyin its two piano version was really perfect.” Rhapsody in Blue became a part of the Oregon Ballet Theatre repertoire when the company was formed in 1989, and it was performed at the Keller and on tour many times in the ’90s.

For Peter and the Wolf and Other Works 2016, NWDT dancers will perform an excerpt of the first half of Rhapsody in Blue with a slight rearrangement of dancers (the original used 10 women and 5 men). It is an honor to learn, perform, and be a part of this artist’s great legacy. We look forward to sharing this great piece with our wonderful audience members on April 16 at 7pm and April 17 at 2pm, 2016 at the Portland Community College Sylvania Performing Arts Center.

Here’s a clip of “Rhapsody in Blue” performed by OBT’s Michael Rios and Nicole Cuevas just to give you a taste of what’s in store!

Tickets are on sale at nwdt.org/tickets starting at $10 for youth.

Limited Holiday Savings on Peter and the Wolf and Other Works 2016

Dec.8, 2015
Photo: James McGrew

Photo: James McGrew

Give the gift of dance this holiday season and save 30% on tickets to go see Peter and the Wolf and Other Works 2016 this April! In celebration of the holidays and this year’s production of A Nutcracker Tea, we are offering 30% off Peter and the Wolf and Other Works ticket orders from December 12 through December 20. Enter the coupon code “wolf” when processing your ticket order to take advantage of this limited time offer. But hurry this offer ends December 20, 2015!

Peter and the Wolf and Other Works is a family-friendly production with a little something special for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the classic story ballet of Peter and the Wolf, we are proud to present Dennis Spaight’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” with the special permission of the Dennis Spaight Choreography Trust, as well as other innovative works by renown contemporary choreographers. The MAC Dancers will also return to join us again as this year’s guest performers. For the young artists, this program is a wonderful opportunity to learn new styles of movement and expand their understanding of dance as a performance art. With this sense of exploration and discovery, Peter and the Wolf and Other Works makes the richness of this art form tangible by creating a bridge between the classical and the contemporary for all ages to enjoy.

Performances will be held at the Portland Community College Sylvania Performing Arts Center on April 16 at 7pm and April 17 at 2pm. Tickets run $10-18 and free event parking is available. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email office@nwdt.org for more information.

A Nutcracker Tea at the Tualatin Public Library

Dec.2, 2015


Come join us Sunday, December 6th, 2015 at 2pm for our Nutcracker Tea Outreach program at the Tualatin Public Library! This program is free and open to the public. We’ve been happy to be able to present this program at the Tualatin Public Library for the past several years, and each year proves to be a very special and empowering experience for both our dancers and the community members who come to attend. It’s a fun way for the public to learn about dance, storytelling, costumes and props while getting a nice taste of the Nutcracker ballet we will perform in the theatre. For some  young audience members it is their first time seeing dance performed, and for us that is an extrodanary first-time experience to be a part of. We look forward to another wonderful afternoon of dance sharing the gift of dance this holiday season with all of you!

Please contact 503-925-3898 or email office@nwdt.org  if you have any questions or would like to make a donation to support future outreach events.

Artslandia Kids’ Launch Party

Oct.2, 2015

Artslandia Kids‘ has released its very first publication, and we are very proud and honored to be a part of it! To mark this exciting occasion, Artslandia Kids is hosting a launch party on Sunday, October 4th from 2-4pm at the Historic Dance Pavilion at Oaks Park. We are excited to be participating in this fun event, and invite you to come celebrate our wonderful local arts community with us! Click here to RSVP!


Open Auditions for A Nutcracker Tea

Sep.18, 2015

We are holding open auditions for our 2015 production of A Nutcracker Tea! Auditions will be open to ages seven and above and will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015, at June Taylor’s School of Dance in Tualatin. Guest performer roles will be offered to dancers based on dance ability and height requirements as determined by the Artistic Directors. Audition times are as follows:

Photo by James McGrew

Photo by James McGrew

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

6:30 p.m. Party parents

Please allow about one hour for auditions. If you are offered a part and choose to accept it, your participation fee will be due at the time you submit your letter of acceptance. This year’s performance dates are December 12 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm, December 13 at 2:00pm, December 18 at 7:00pm, December 19 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm, and December 20 at 2:00pm.

If you have any questions or would like additional audition information, please contact NWDT Student Coordinator, Gail Anderson, at (503) 925-3898 or via e-mail at nutcracker@nwdt.org. We hope you join us this year as we bring the joy of dance and this heartwarming classic to our local community!


Rewind! NWDT Dancers in Motion

Sep.10, 2015

The work of a dancer never ends. It is a continuous journey with goals that lead to further goals, life lessons, and achievements. And for Northwest Dance Theatre dancers, self-direction and motivation does not take a summer break.

Since our final performance of the 2014-2015 season, our dancers have been hard at work training, competing, and sharing their art form with others. Here is what our dancers have been up to the past few months!


Cherie competing at the 2015 OSAA State Choir Competition

In early May, Cherie, who trains at June Taylor’s School of Dance and is also member of the concert choir at Veritas High School, competed in the 2A/1A 2015 OSAA State Choir Competition at George Fox University. She performed choreography from the Nutcracker Tea Arabian solo by Northwest Dance Theatre Artistic Director’s June Taylor-Dixon and Gretta Marchek to a Syrian love song called “Yal Asmar Ellon”. The choir won first place with 21 points in the lead due to the choir’s innovative performance combining dance and song.  One of the competition’s regulations restricted Cherie from practicing onstage with the choir beforehand; however, she adapted to the space and performed with ease and the judges expressed how impressed they were with her timing, technique, and ability to quick change.

Sarah and Lauren competed together in Vancouver, B.C. May 2015

Sarah and Lauren traveled to B.C. to compete in North America’s first RAD Dance Challenge competition

Also in the month of May, Sarah, who trains at June Taylor’s School of Dance, and Lauren, who trains at both June Taylor’s School of Dance in Tualatin and Academie de Ballet Classique in Bend, OR, traveled to Vancouver, B.C. to compete in the very first Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Dance Challenge competition to be held in North America. The girls represented their country brilliantly, and they enjoyed the wonderful experience of meeting their international peers and participating in coaching sessions with RAD Examiner Lynnette Kelley.

Representing NWDT in Texas

Representing NWDT at Texas Ballet Theatre School’s Intensive

In June and July, NWDT dancers attended summer school at some of the country’s most prestigious schools. Lauren traveled to attend the Texas Ballet Theatre School’s Summer Intensive and study with Texas Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Ben Stevenson and many more incredible world renown teachers. Helia, who also studies at June Taylor’s School of Dance, traveled to attend the San Francisco Ballet School’s Summer Session. She was also accepted into SF Ballet School’s highly-competitive yearlong training program, a program where American Ballet Theatre Principal Misty Copeland and many other phenomenal dancers have studied.

Helia attended SF Ballet School's Summer Session

Helia attended SF Ballet School’s 2015 Summer Session

In August, many of our dancers also attended June Taylor’s School of Dance’s Senior Intensive where they had the wonderful opportunity to study with The Washington School of Ballet Director Kee Juan Han, Royal Academy of Dance Examiner Michele Pearson, as well as Sally Smith, Laura Haney, Zachary Carroll, June Taylor-Dixon, Gretta Murray-Marchek, and many more incredible teachers. At the end of the program, the dancers participated in a beautiful showcase performance demonstrating the great many things they had learned and accomplished over the course of the Senior Intensive program.

Each of the dancers takes the opportunity to perform as a gift. While they inspire many as company dancers, they also serve as role models for the younger dancers in the studios where they study. Back in June of 2015 many of our dancers performed in June Taylor’s School of Dance’s spring productions of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Fancy Feet” as well as Academie de Ballet Classique’s production of “Alice in Wonderland”. Through these performance experiences the dancers were able to continue to develop their performance skills while also inspiring their younger classmates to work hard and pursue their passion.


The dancers traveled to B.C. to study with Ms. Kelley in August

Towards the end of August, some of our dancers traveled to Vancouver, B.C. to receive coaching lessons from Royal Academy of Dance Examiner Lynnette Kelley. Every opportunity to take class with Ms. Kelley is a gift as she pushes dancers to look past what they think they are capable of in order to work and achieve a level of quality that goes beyond what they thought of as possible. Our founder and artistic director, JuneTaylor-Dixon, also traveled to attend a teacher training course with Ms. Kelley. And in addition to teaching and attending teacher courses, our artistic directors, Miss June and Miss Gretta, have been hard at work planning and getting everything in place and ready to go for the start of NWDT’s 27th season. Their dedication to dance education and the performing arts community inspires us, and we are grateful to have their knowledge and expertise at Northwest Dance Theatre.

So as you can see, our dancers and artistic directors have been quite busy the past few months since company auditions and our spring production of Peter and the Wolf and Other Works. We are thrilled, excited, and ready to begin our 27th performance year with our wonderful community because you are the reason we dance, perform, and share.

Tickets for A Nutcracker Tea and Peter and the Wolf and Other Works go on sale November 1st at nwdt.org/tickets.

Leaping into our 27th year

Aug.15, 2015


We’re getting excited to begin rehearsing next month for our 27th performance year! With A Nutcracker Tea in December and Peter and the Wolf and Other Works in April, we feel honored to have our performances become a tradition for many families in the Portland Metro Area. We have a wonderful group of passionate young dancers looking forward to sharing this next season with you. They have been training over the summer, preparing themselves to begin rehearsals for A Nutcracker Tea with focus, clarity, and strength. This performance year is going to be an incredible journey for them as young artists as they learn a variety of new works and discover the value of discipline, teamwork, and critical thinking. Dance is a powerful gift to give and receive, and we look forward to sharing this gift with our community this season!

We invite you to visit our performance page for this season’s performance schedule where tickets will also be available for purchase beginning November 1st, 2015.

We are so grateful to all our generous sponsors

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.