dance

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.

Courtesy On the Boards

Amy O’Neal is a formally trained white dancer who feels more at home with hip-hop culture and movement than with she does with Western European contemporary art.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Angela Sterling

Quick! What's the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word ballerina?

Graceful, delicate?

Would you believe fierce?

Courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas

Most people see only the sparkly side of ballet: the live performances, with dancers in costume, pointe shoes tied, orchestra in the pit. Whether it’s the annual holiday production of “Nutcracker” or an edgier, contemporary work, many of the dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet see performances as a reward for their hours of rehearsal.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Lindsay Thomas

Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer Kaori Nakamura remembers the day she got her first pointe shoes.

Flickr Photo/Balletstar011 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with former New York City ballerina Jenifer Ringer about her new book, "Dancing Through It: My Journey In The Ballet."

Velocity Dance Center/Jacob Rosen

When you ask Seattle dance insiders which young artists they've got their eyes on, 24-year-old Kate Wallich's name almost always rises to the top of the list.

Courtesy of Bamberg Fine Art

Olivier Wevers remembers the first time he took a dance class; It ended badly. Wevers' mother found her very young son crying at the side of the dance studio.

"They gave me tights to wear," Wevers said. "I wanted a tutu."

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