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Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Fall, and the typical rain, arrived this week, but the atmosphere of art appreciation in University Place, Washington, keeps blooming, with Dance Theatre Northwest as the brightest blossom in that bouquet. Artistic Director Melanie Kirk-Stauffer seems to be having an especially exciting year, adding to her long list of original dance numbers she has choreographed and presented. You can see the DTNW company and students perform them this Friday night, September 26, when UP for Arts launches their Fall Art and Concert, including this production, "Dance Illuminations." The event takes place in the Civic/Library Atrium at 3609 Market Square, University Place, WA, 98464, between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The event also includes the work of fine artist Retha Hayward and watercolor artist Jason Bordash. 

As inspired as Kirk-Stauffer felt during 2014, her creativity, mind, heart, and energies are already focused on interpreting an object of inspiration that doesn't even physically exist yet, but which will become a showpiece of this thriving community that is a next-door neighbor to Tacoma. Dance Theatre Northwest is developing an entirely new work, as yet unnamed, based on a public art installation planned for the University Place Civic Center Atrium, appearing in the spring of 2015. It will be called "Between Sea and Sky" and has been embraced by the citizens of UP. As long ago as December of 2013, the Tacoma News Tribune reported on the unexpected speed of, and enthusiasm behind, local fundraising for this artwork, a piece that will cascade from the atrium's ceiling and reflect the abundant natural daylight. 

"I have been choreographing and presenting art inspired dance works "Illuminations"since our D├ęgas art-inspired ballet, 'The Red Shoes,'" Kirk-Stauffer told me. "After working for several years creating and lecturing about dance pieces that relate to works at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, I realize that this has become a kind of self-actualizing experience."

She says the audiences, the respective artists, and educators all seem to love the way this draw more attention to detail. I know that when I attended the DTNW performance at the Museum of Glass, I was amazed by how she could interpret the art of glass through the art of dance. I had never seen such an attempt before and found it fascinating.

"The challenge of bringing more insight into each specific work of art, using dance, really drives my creativity," she added, at it is apparent. Because "Between Sea and Sky" will be such a significant piece of public art for the City of University Place, she  is approaching this new work it inspired in the same way she approached other signature dance piece, such as "Strike Up the Band," "The Red Shoes," "Almost Blue," and and "Tribute," the Museum of Glass piece. 

"Other recent pieces of note," she said, "include "Capriccio," "Fire To Rain," "One Voice," "Man On The Street," and "Nite Lites," which are all being presented at the Atrium on September 26th for UP For Art.

What a perfect way to begin a new season. I highly recommend that you plan to be there on Friday night to see this wonderful showcase of dance talent. Tickets are only $10 for General Admission and $5 for Students. 

P.S. I hear the "Bluebird Pas De Deux" with music by Peter Tchaikovsky will be spectacular!

All photos were taken by Maks Zakharov.

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