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stg: young choreographers lab applications due 9/17

Incubating Dance Makers
Seattle Theatre Group Launches a “Young Choreographers Lab”

By Leslie Holleran

STG’s YCL participants
(photo courtesy of STG)

There are ample opportunities for young dancers to train in Seattle, and the organizations providing this service are many. However, one local non-profit organization among them, Seattle Theatre Group (STG), which runs the Paramount and Moore Theatres, has made the bold move of expanding its educational offerings to include instruction in choreography for aspiring dance makers. Launched in 2008 with much success, STG’s Young Choreographer’s Lab will re-open this October with an all-star cast of instructors headed up by local choreographer Amy O’Neal.

During an eight-week program, approximately 20 “investigators,” selected by application, will gather at Velocity Dance Center in Capitol Hill for three hours every Saturday afternoon to broaden their knowledge and hone their skills as choreographers in weekly master classes. Participants will learn choreographic tools, such as improvisation, movement quality and musicality, and then experiment with them by developing short movement studies.

STG’s Education and Community Programs Manager Liz Young, who came up with the idea for the lab and runs the program, describes it as: “a chance (for young dancers) to explore their creative ideas as choreographers . . . An investigation of space and time and energy every week.”

Seattle choreographer Amy O’Neal, lead instructor
for STG’s YCL, provides direction to participants
(photo courtesy of Seattle Theatre Group)

Some of Seattle’s best known choreographers and dance educators will join O’Neal in teaching in the lab. They include: Kirsten Cooper of Westlake Dance Center; Sonia Dawkins of Prism Dance Theatre; international choreographer Mark Haim, formerly a faculty member at the University of Washington; and KT Niehoff of Lingo Dancetheater. Gregory Maquoma, a visiting South African dancer and choreographer, who will perform in Seattle in November, will be the lab’s featured guest artist.

Upon completion of the lab, participants will have the opportunity to submit a proposal to create a more developed choreographic work in the winter and spring of 2010 and apply their newly learned skills. If selected, they will receive mentorship from a professional choreographer, rehearsal space, and assistance with dancer/performer selection – all through STG. Those whose proposals are not accepted can choose to perform in one of these works instead.

Last year, both O’Neal and Haim mentored five aspiring choreographers, who presented their work at a showing last June. One lucky choreographer among them, 18-year-old Alice Madden of Woodinville, WA, (who is heading to Macalester College this fall) had her piece selected to be performed at the Paramount Theatre as part of STG’s annual “DANCE This” show in July.

The most important lesson Madden learned through the Young Choreographers Lab had more to do with leading a group of her peers than choreography. Regarding this, Madden said, “Being responsible, having yourself together, planning for multiple options given that you’re not always going to have all the dancers (together). It’s a project not a dance company.” However, Madden also noted that she gained experience in teaching movement to others, which was something she had not had the opportunity to do before.

STG is now accepting applications for the Young Choreographers Lab, which are due September 17. An application form and additional information can be found online at

Editor’s Note: To save you a little search, here’s a verbatim copy from the Moore Theatre’s website. It’s a short application, so take heart and apply. Good luck!

October 3-November 21, 2009
(Saturdays 2:00-5:00 pm)
Velocity Dance Center

The Young Choreographers Lab is for teens interested in pursuing their artistic vision as choreographers as well as dancers. Up to 20 teens are selected each year to investigate movement invention. In the fall, participants meet once a week, for eight weeks for choreography master classes and in the spring selected choreographers create a larger work—all with the mentorship of leading Seattle choreographers. For more information, email Education. []