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dance

Bhangra and skateboarding: 'I can do my own thing and that’s fine with me'

Oct 4, 2017
Flickr photo / joellofving https://flic.kr/p/8bouzQ

Two stories on our podcast this week about Seattleites breaking free and breaking stereotypes:

  • Jesse Weinstock is an avid skater. “Most of my best friends I met through skateboarding. My oldest friend, Andy, I met on the first day of seventh grade. I was like, 'You have a skate shirt on, do you skate?' We’ve been friends now for 30 years.” 
  • Ashveen Matharu has been dancing Bhangra since middle school (she recently graduated high school). “I was motivated to dance Bhangra because it’s a stereotype for girls not to dance Bhangra.” 


Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite in 'Romeo et Juliette' in 2008 at Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet/Angela Sterling

Lucien Postlewaite remembers exactly how he felt the first time he danced with Noelani Pantastico.

“I was this young boy,” he recalls. “I’d always admired Noe’s dancing. The first time she talked to me I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”

Dancers from the Seattle troupe Bailodores de Bronce, in performance
Courtesy Bailodores de Bronces

Adrian Olivas is a small, soft-spoken man who makes his living as a horticulturalist, nurturing plant life of all kinds.

But three evenings a week, Olivas swaps his garden tools for a pair of dancing shoes. That's how he nurtures his soul.


Eastern Indian troupe Sapphire Dance Creations Company is one of the performers at 2017's Seattle International Dance Festival.
Courtesy of Seattle International Dance Festival

Organizers of the Seattle International Dance Festival said it’s more challenging to get visas for artists in 2017 than before.


In this March 21, 2017 photo, Misty Copeland, first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, appears at the Steps on Broadway dance school in New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Ballerina Misty Copeland started her dance training at the late age of 13. Nonetheless, she was soon recognized as a prodigy and rose quickly to opportunity and success. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman promoted to principal ballerina by American Ballet Theatre.

KT Niehoff's newest performance explores extraordinary human experiences with their own bodies
Courtesy of KT Niehoff

Seattle artist KT Niehoff and her good friend Michele Miller moved to Seattle 25 years ago. They came west from New York to dance with acclaimed choreographer Pat Graney.

They had youthful enthusiasm, a passion to perform, and not much else.

Artist Mary Sheldon Scott of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

We live in a culture that values being young and hip, but there’s something to be said for age and experience.

Just ask Seattle artist Mary Sheldon Scott.

Check out this bhangra by the beach, Nova Scotia style

Sep 28, 2016
S
Facebook Screenshot

Bhangra is a style of both music and dance that's popular in the Punjab region of India.

But a new bhangra video that went viral has a distinctly different backdrop: Peggy's Cove, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. 

Hard corps: The baddest dancers you never heard of

Sep 22, 2016
Pacific Northwest Ballet

Gorgeous photos and gifs of Pacific Northwest Ballet's corps de ballet. 

Pacific Northwest Ballet's corps de ballet dancers in George Balanchine's 'Nutcracker.'
Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet/Angela Sterling

Rock stars have back up bands.

Most Broadway musicals have a chorus.

The ballet version of these supporting artists is the corps de ballet; "corps" is French for body.

Join KUOW at On the Boards!

Sep 19, 2016
Juniper Shuey

Join Marcie Sillman for the second Front Row Center of our 2016-2017 Season at On the Board’s "Clear and Sweet."

Experience a fusion of dance and live vocals created by Seattle-based dance and visual art team zoe | juniper. Inspired by American Shape Note singing, "Clear and Sweet" immerses the audience in physical and visual art, blurring the line between performer and observer.

Come see "Clear and Sweet" on Friday, October 21 at 8:00 pm, then stay afterwards for a conversation moderated by KUOW's Marcie Sillman with Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey of zoe | juniper.

Philipp Mergener, 13, as the lead in the Village Theatre production of the hit musical 'Billy Elliot.'
Courtesy of Village Theatre/Mark Kitaoka

The hit musical, “Billy Elliot,” tells the story of a British coal miner’s son who dreams of being a ballet dancer.

Billy has to keep that dream secret from from his family and most of his friends, or risk their ridicule. Thirteen-year-old Seattle resident Philipp Mergener can relate.


Jody Kuehner, left, without her makeup, and Jody Kuehner as Cherdonna, right, with her makeup.
KUOW Photo/Lisa Wang

The woman with the dirty-blonde pixie cut sits before a mirror.

Plastic bags with jars of yellow foundation and purple and blue glitters sit in front of her. Nine makeup brushes are lined up, waiting to be deployed.


The outside of the Francia Russell Center in Bellevue. The Francia Russell Center is part of Pacific Northwest Ballet and will soon have to move because it is in the light rail pathway.
Google Maps

UPDATE: On Monday, Jan. 25, King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle ruled against Pacific Northwest Ballet. The judge said Sound Transit may use fair market value for PNB’s eastside school, rather than the replacement value of the facility. The ruling only determines the method of assessment for the property value. A jury may still place a higher value on the school. A court hearing on the issue is set for June.

Pacific Northwest Ballet has performed in a lot of places.

But Friday the dance company will be on a new stage: a King County Superior Court room.

PNB wants a judge to settle a dispute with Sound Transit.

Jonathan Porretta was the only boy in his dance class in Totowa, New Jersey. Dance was his refuge, where he could shine. He ended up at School of American Ballet in New York City, where he was scouted by Kent Stowell of Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Courtesy Jane D'Annunzio

A dancer stands alone on the stage. He is dressed in black tights only; his bare chest is broad and muscular.

As the bassoonist plays the first plaintive notes of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” the lights come up and the dancer’s body undulates like a stalk of wheat in the wind. Slowly, he lifts his shoulders, and his extended arms drift up like wings of a bird.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company members in George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker."
Angela Sterling

You take a chance any time you swap out an old favorite for something new.

Make a change during the holiday season and a nonprofit arts group could risk a significant portion of its annual income if tickets don’t sell. But play it safe and there’s the risk of producing stale art.

A Seattle third grader auditions for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Dance Chance program.
Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas

Long before Misty Copeland grabbed international headlines as the first African American woman named principal dancer at American Ballet Theater in New York, Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet was scouting for young people like Copeland: potential dancers who might not find ballet on their own.

A dancer and stager rehearse Loïe Fuller's 'Lily of the Nile.'
University of Washington/Steve Korn

One of the things that’s so exciting about dance is one of the things that can be most frustrating:

Dance is ephemeral.

It’s live, it’s in the moment, and then, poof, that dance you’ve just seen is a memory.

A 'Snowflake' dress waits for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's new version of 'The Nutcracker.'
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The winter holidays are months away, but at Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers and crew are working at a fever pitch on the annual production of "The Nutcracker." 

This year’s version is brand new to PNB. Choreographed by the late George Balanchine, it features new sets and costumes by children’s author/illustrator Ian Falconer.

See how these costumes are coming to life:

Former PNB dancer Ariana Lallone at Teatro Zinzanni.
Courtesy of Teatro Zinzanni/Michael Doucett

She may kill me for revealing her age, but what the heck? 

Ariana Lallone is 47 years old, and she’s as striking and vibrant as the first time I saw her dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet 20 years ago.

Marcie Sillman talks to  hip-hop artist DJ Blesone about his motivation behind breakdancing.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold in George Balanchine's "Diamonds."
PNB/Angela Sterling

When Seattle ballerina Carla Korbes dons a white tutu in the classic ballet, “Swan Lake,” she can make you believe she’s a swan.

That uncanny ability has made Korbes a darling in the ballet world – so beloved that New York Times chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay regularly flies out to see her perform. He calls her one of the world’s greatest ballerinas today because of how she feels the music and embodies the characters.

PNB soloist Kiyon Gaines in Twyla Tharp's "Waiting at the Station."
Courtesy PNB/Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Kiyon Gaines says he didn’t find ballet -- ballet found him.

The Baltimore native didn’t start dancing until he was 10. He studied tap and jazz. Somebody told him that ballet lessons would help him with how he carried his arms. So his mother enrolled him in a local class.

Krubel Amare shows off a head spin in the KUOW studio.
KUOW Photo / Sanda Htyte

When I’m break dancing, I feel free. That is the best feeling, when you don’t care what others think. You don’t care what you even think at that moment in time.

Spectrum Dance Theater unveils a new "Carmina Burana" dance performance this month by its artistic director Donald Byrd.
Courtesy Spectrum Dance Theater

You may not know it by name, but you've likely heard Carl Orff's 1937 cantata, "Carmina Burana."

Chorale groups present it, commercials and films use it in soundtracks, and choreographers make dances to it. 

This spring, two Seattle dance companies will present works set to "Carmina Burana."

Reinier Valdes, owner of the dance studio La Clave Cubana.
Courtesy of Reinier Valdes

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Reinier Valdes, owner of the dance studio La Clave Cubana, about his effort to bring Cuban dance to Seattle.

Edna Daigre, center, teaches a class for older dancers in Seattle's Central Area.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Doris Tunney doesn’t even pretend to be offended when you ask how old she is.

“I’m 86,” she says proudly. “I’ll be 87 on March 26.”

Tunney is petite, with cinnamon brown skin, short, curly white hair and perfect posture. Dressed in denim capris and a long-sleeved cotton shirt, this octogenarian is ready to dance.

photo by Teri Pieper

When you think about a dance performance, you may envision something grand and expansive, like “Nutcracker.” Or maybe a sparkly ballroom competition comes to mind, something akin to “Dancing With the Stars.”

Whatever the dance style, these performances are about bodies moving in space. In this case, big spaces.

In Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs The Nutcracker to that same ubiquitous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky score. The ballet tells the story of Clara, a young girl whose grandfather gives her a nutcracker at a party. One night, Clara goes searching for her nutcracker and walks right into a battle between a regiment of toy soldiers and a wily team of oversized rodents.

photo courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet

When Kent Stowell and his wife, Francia Russell, took over artistic leadership at Pacific Northwest Ballet more than 30 years ago they wanted to build the tiny regional dance company into a national ballet powerhouse. To help them reach that goal, they decided to create a signature holiday production at PNB, a ballet that would distinguish them from all the other American ballet companies.

The logical choice was a new adaptation of "Nutcracker," the story of a young girl who's given a nutcracker doll that magically comes to life. Different versions of this Christmas story are performed across the country.

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