DTNW serves community with ‘Arts Are Education’ performances

Oceana Neil in Sleeping Bty attitude
Oceana Thunder and Neil Alexander in “Sleeping Beauty Pas De Deux.” Photo by Maks Zakharov

University Place based Dance Theatre Northwest (DTNW) will present its next “Arts Are Education” performances for this year on Friday, Sept. 29, at Sunset Primary (4523 97th Ave. W.,) at 1:30 p.m. and on Friday, Oct. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at Evergreen Primary (7102 40 St. W.).

“Arts Are Education” is a part of an ongoing series of DTNW’s community service outreach projects. These dance arts performances and arts education lectures are free and open to the public.

DTNW company members and guest artists will be featured in traditional classical ballet pieces including excerpts from ballet classics like “Sleeping Beauty,” as well as innovative new works created and staged by Melanie Kirk-Stauffer, DTNW’s artistic director. Teaching the students and audience members directly through an arts experience, Kirk-Stauffer will address several aspects of dance and its benefits.

“Dance – especially ballet – has been my passion for as long as I can remember. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to share the joy and artistry of dance with every audience,” said Kirk-Stauffer. “For me, every performance is a celebration. And, it’s hard to think of anything more exciting than stimulating young minds through this beautiful art form.”

Kirk-Stauffer currently conducts dance workshops in schools as well as at Dance Theatre Northwest and through Pierce College. Last year, she and several of her students led numerous dance workshops in Pierce County area schools, giving students an opportunity to learn some basic ballet poses and dance moves.

Kirk-Stauffer has produced and directed new ballets to original scores by resident composers Z. F. (Frank) Danes, Jack Gorrecht and the late Owen Nasr with whom she worked with since 1993. More recently, she staged several new works for a performance to the music of Gary Eskow of New York. All ballets are performed by dancers from DTNW along with guest musicians and vocalists. They collaborate with and encourage artists in the area to develop their talents, i.e. lighting designers, music arrangers, costume and set production specialists, photographers and audio-video artists. Kirk-Stauffer has a history of having produced and directed numerous successful shows for family audiences such as “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake,” “Les Sylphides,” “Beautiful Ballets,” “America, Let Freedom Ring,” “The Jewel Heart,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Red Shoes.”

Incorporated in 1987, DTNW includes an award-winning regional performing dance company, a junior dance ensemble, guest performers, guest vocalists and an extensive support network of professional artists, guests and volunteers serving in various capacities.

The group provides performances and training in classical ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical dance, musical theater and dance fitness at the Dance Theatre Northwest studio (2811 Bridgeport Way West #24) and participates in several educational collaborations in the region.

DTNW’s purpose is to provide high quality, ballet-based, American contemporary dance performance and dance education, and to offer economically and culturally diverse communities in the Pacific Northwest the opportunity to experience dance as an important art form.

Along with formal winter and spring productions, DTNW provides “Arts Are Education” and “Art Inspires Art” presentations in numerous community facilities, assisted-living and senior residential facilities and schools on a regular basis with a complete cast of company and student dancers, audio equipment and costumes. DTNW also provides workshops, camps, intensives, and ongoing lectures that accompany performances to help audience members develop a better understanding of the art form. Many of these programs are collaborations that incorporate the work of other artists or art organizations. Many are free and open to the public.

Phone: (253) 778-6534 For more information visit www.DTNW.org.

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