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Preview: 3SD’s Whacked!

Written by Mariko Nagashima
3SD Dancers: Sharonda Young, Ashley Willcut,
Ahnaleza Vandermay, and Mia Monteabaro

Photo by Jorge Villamil


3rd Shift Dance is on the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene in the Seattle. With a successful event, Battle for the Dance Belt, last month, the company is preparing for a full-length show of hard-hitting dance this Sunday, May 20, 2012, at VelocityDanceCenter. SeattleDances had the opportunity to discuss 3SD and the upcoming show with their tenacious director, Xaviera Vandermay.

SD: Tell us a bit about 3SD.

XV: This iteration of 3rd Shift Dance formed September 2011. However, I first began creating and presenting work as 3SD in Chicago in 2007 and continued with the project upon moving to Seattle in 2008. I formed 3SD as an outlet to share my choreographic voice as well as a means to give burgeoning choreographers in the community an opportunity to create and present new original works. We are big on the “it takes a village” mentality and want to aide in giving as many Northwest artists exposure as possible. At this stage, we are still quite young so our goals are more on the short-term scale. The company is hard at work coming up with new projects. Be on the lookout for Wrecking Ball 2012: Choreographers 4×4 this August.

SD: Battle for the Dance Belt sounds like it was a huge success. How did you come up with that idea and how will it affect your company’s future? Are you planning on making it an annual event?

XV: To be completely honest, it came to me while enjoying a post-rehearsal cocktail at Highline. You never know when inspiration will strike!  The only thing I ended up scrapping from the original brainstorm session was the voting by presenting a lei to a representative to the group you preferred. In the light of day, we came up with a very streamlined system that we will hold onto for our future events. Battlefor the Dance Belt will definitely continue to be a part of the 3SD season line-up. In fact, we are holding our next one September 30th and are accepting proposals now through July 15, 2012.

SD: Could you describe your aesthetic and explain how 3SD is defining itself from other companies in Seattle?  

XV: A huge part of our advertising look is our talented graphic designer Justen Weber of Justen, Inc. He’s such a gifted man, and I am so thankful to have a designer who really understands the 3SD vision. We like our fun with a bit of edge, and I think he captures that beautifully. Our hope is we stand out in our truly collaborative spirit. This city is teeming with talent and we’d love to continue to do our part to share and elevate that experience with our audiences. The fact that there is not just one, but often as many as four to six kick-ass dance performances to choose from every weekend is phenomenal! We are honored to add one more option for dance patrons to choose from this weekend. 

SD: Tell us about your show, Whacked! What can the audience expect to see?

XV: Like our previous productions, Whacked! is a 60-minute jazz and contemporary dance concert with zero pauses and bare-bone lighting. In creating my format for all of our productions, I pulled out all the things that drive me crazy at dance performances, namely, extended pauses between pieces, intermission, and dry speeches. Fast and hard! That is our method. In order to not kill my fabulous dancers, we bring on fantastic guests. This go around we have Fusion Dance (a youth company I direct) and Electriq Dance, directed by Aaron Gordon, in our 7 pm show. DASS Dance, directed by Daniel Wilkins, and Battlefor the Dance Belt champions, Xclusive (directed by Melissa Singleton and Della Martinis) will be bringing some additional heat to our 9 pm show.

3SD Dancer Mia Monteaboro
 Photo by Jorge Villamil
SD: What are you most excited about for Whacked!?

XV: I love watching my dancers in action and am very excited about the pieces created by Alyza DelPan-Monley (Returning Again) and April Torneby (Volcano). They’ve done a beautiful job with their choreography. The big sister part of me is super excited to watch Associate Director Ahnaleza Vandermay perform her final performance until next spring. She astounds me daily with the new places she takes her dancing.

3rd Shift Dance can be seen in their one-night only show Whacked! this Sunday evening at VelocityDanceCenter. Tickets for Whacked! are available at For more information on 3SD visit: