Dominique Gabella was a powerful performing artist, choreographer, teacher, writer, and poet, as well as an outspoken advocate for social justice and animal rights. In addition to teaching at Dance Fremont, Gabella formerly taught at Washington Contemporary Ballet, Spectrum Dance Theater, Washington Academy of Performing Arts, and the University of Washington. On July 27, 2013, Dominique passed away surrounded by her loved ones after a valiant fight against cancer. “It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of Dominique. The Dance Fremont community will miss her very much,” said Vivian Little, co-director of the studio. “She touched so many young dancers’ lives and inspired friends who were her colleagues.” In honor of Gabella’s memory, Dance Fremont will hold an informal tribute performance November 2, 2013, at 7 PM at the Dance Fremont Studio Theater.
In the early 2000s, Gabella directed Next Stage Dance Theatre, a professional company for mature dancers (similar to Nederlands Dans Theater III). Dominique was a recipient of a 2002 GAP Award from Artist Trust for her project with NSDT “Embrace Wolf…return home.” During this time, she was also interviewed by KUOW’s Marcie Sillman about her life and work (listen here).
Before the Dance Fremont Studio Theater had lighting or wings, Dominique organized informal community performances there on select first Saturdays of the month called Les Samedis de la Danse. This was an outlet for students, NSDT members, and guest performers to present works in progress, as well as finished pieces. These performances provided students with additional opportunities to perform, allowed audiences to sample upcoming shows, and created a vehicle for performers and choreographers to receive crucial feedback.
In honor of Dominique, Dance Fremont will hold a final Les Samedis de la Danse this weekend. Performers will include Fremont Danceworks company, former Next Stage Dance Theatre members and Relay Dance Collective. The free performance begins at 7 PM this Saturday, November 2. Dance Fremont is located at 4015 Stone Way N in Seattle. For more information, call 206-633-0812 ext. 3 or visit dancefremont.com.
Friends Remember Dominique Gabella
“I have so many memories of Dominique, it is hard to condense them all. We had such joy together in our love of performing … of communicating the essence of dance no matter what the piece, the venue, the audience. I will always hold dear her confidence in me as a choreographer. When I first started with NSDT, I adamantly stated that I was a performer not a choreographer. Yet, she slowly convinced me to try, to follow my ideas and passions. She offered advice when sought but did not try to direct me or influence my choices. I am proud of my body of work with NSDT and it would not exist without the quiet determination of Dominique.”
Janis Zetlen, former company member, Next Stage Dance Theatre
“Occasionally, she would invite the company over for a holiday candle-lit dinner at night. Her view was spectacular of Magnuson Park. One time, we went around the table and told of our first meeting with our husbands/partners. I believe she said that she and some folks were climbing a mountain and Michael (Dominique’s husband) was among the friends and it was kismet–love-at-first-sight, between the two of them.”
Carolyn Rosenfield, former company member, Next Stage Dance Theatre
“Her Graham classes were what I remember most. She made me feel like an adult as a young teenager because she didn’t dumb down any of the material and made us feel like we were part of the larger dance legacy. She had an amazing ability to make the simplest movements like flexing and pointing her feet in unison into something elegant. Oh, and she always remembered “Merde” gifts at the shows where we usually only performed in one piece. I always felt included because of those little gifts and the handwritten note.”
Tess Wendel, former student; co-founder, Relay Dance Collective
“Dominique was a magical person. Her smile, wit, elegance, French accent and streak of silver amid her dark hair are forever etched in my memory. She was an elite teacher, a ballerina-esque dancer but with the soul and fire of a Graham dancer. She was down-to-earth and extremely personable. Her commitment to Next Stage Dance Theater showed the many subtleties, facets, and nuances of dancing that make the art form so much richer than simply leaps and spins. I aspire to dance with the same spirit and grace as Dominique. I hope to age as she did — only becoming more beautiful and comfortable in my own skin with time.”
Gabrielle Nomura, former student; co-founder, Relay Dance Collective