Acclaimed Dancers Create New Work In Residency on Vashon

“We know great things can be produced here on Vashon.”

Seattle Dance Collective dancers, rehearsing new work by Robyn Mineko Williams, who is seated in the foreground (Photo Courtesy Seattle Dance Collective).

Seattle Dance Collective dancers, rehearsing new work by Robyn Mineko Williams, who is seated in the foreground (Photo Courtesy Seattle Dance Collective).

Throughout July, Vashon is the temporary artistic home base for eight acclaimed dancers from the mainland, who are here to create new works, and film them, for Seattle Dance Collective’s upcoming season, “Here and Now.”

Seattle Dance Collective (SDC) has a special connection to Vashon — the company performed its debut dance concert at Vashon Center for the Arts in 2019. The company is led by artistic directors Noelani Pantastico and James Yoichi Moore, who are both principal dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Pantastico, in an email, said that the July residency on Vashon has reaffirmed the company’s connection to Vashon.

“With the astonishing artistic presence on the island, we know great things can be produced here on Vashon,” she said. “The development of new works rarely gets the time and attention needed, but with the support of the Vashon Artist Residency, Vashon Center for the Arts, Open Space, as well as many others in the community, we are well on our way to creating three unique and captivating dance films.”

On Vashon, Pantastico and Moore are leading an ensemble of eight dancers in the month-long residency. The group includes members of SDC as well as dancers from Whim W’Him, FLOCK and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Also in attendance at the residency are choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams and FLOCK (Alice Klock and Florian Lochner), who are watching as the ensemble gives life to their new works in rehearsals at Open Space and Vashon Center for the Arts. A new work by another choreographer, Juliano Nunes, will also be honed during the residency.

According to Pantastico, the residency has given all these artists time and space to create and come together as a team.

“Apart from getting our bodies back in action, the whole process has felt organic and calm in this environment,” she said.

For the residency, SDC laid a 56’ x 36’ sprung floor on top of the existing concrete floor at Open Space’s Grand Hall to make the surface suitable for dancing. The sprung floor was brought to Vashon from Seattle by truck and will be removed at the conclusion of the residency.

Vashon Artist Residency, a new artist residency founded by islander Cathy Sarkowsky, is housing a number of dancers and choreographers for their month on the island.

Sarkowsky said that she and the residency’s director, Hannah Hirsekorn, were excited to include SDC as residents during their inaugural summer.

All that’s missing? Due to the uncertainty around COVID at the time of planning the residency, SDC will not have a public performance as part of its July stay on Vashon.

But Elizabeth Dougherty, a representative for the company, said that the dancers look forward to the time they can perform again on the island in the near future.

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