Spring is a busier season than normal for the Southwest Washington Dance Center in Chehalis, which is not only preparing to host eight dance companies for the annual Dance Festival Northwest next week, but is organizing the center’s 40th anniversary gala in April.
“The events are just a month apart, but they’re completely different,” said Administrative Director Marcia Greenfield.
In its 29th year, Dance Festival Northwest is an event the Southwest Washington Dance Center is well-versed in hosting.
The one-day festival takes place Saturday, March 18, with 161 dancers from eight dance companies across Southwest Washington attending classes together as a group under “master teachers” in Chehalis before the companies each perform pieces at Centralia College’s Corbet Theatre.
Visiting companies to this year’s festival include Ballet Northwest from Olympia, Centralia Ballet Academy Company, Evergreen City Ballet from Renton, Luminary Dance Academy from Longview, Maple Valley School of Ballet from Bothell, Olympic Ballroom Dance from Olympia and Studio West Dance Theatre from Olympia.
The Southwest Washington Dance Center will perform its own dance at the festival, a 19-minute piece choreographed by dance instructor Brianna Jones.
The piece chronicles Jones’ “transformation through life” and features her 9-year-old daughter, who represents “the inner child of people,” Jones said.
“I’m hoping it will really touch a lot of hearts,” she said.
Jones will have a second chance to showcase her piece at the 2023 Gala For The Arts celebrating the Southwest Washington Dance Center’s 40th anniversary on April 15.
The last Gala For The Arts was held 10 years ago, for the dance center’s 30th anniversary.
While the Dance Festival showcases the art of ballet, the Gala For The Arts celebrates a wide variety of artistic mediums, including music and fine art.
Performers will include the Backfire Band, the W.F. West Jazz Band, multiple singers, acoustic musicians, a local Mariachi band and more.
“We didn’t want to make it just a dance show,” said Greenfield, adding that the goal of the gala is to “celebrate the arts in general. Our art is dance, but we want to bring together all the people who entertain us.”
Jones, who is directing the gala, is working on creative solutions to keep a show with multiple bands flowing smoothly.
“We don’t want to leave the audience sitting while we wait for the band to break down,” she said.
The gala will include six dance numbers interspersed with performances from six to eight local outside groups, Greenfield said.
The Southwest Washington Dance Center’s dancers are hard at work preparing for both shows, attending long rehearsals multiple times a week to nail down their numbers.
“In different aspects, each piece is very challenging this year and it’s something that’s really fun for all of us,” said dancer Amanda Brossard.
If You Go
Dance Festival Northwest
Time: 7 p.m. on March 18
Place: Corbet Theatre in Washington Hall at Centralia College, 600 Centralia College Blvd, Centralia
Tickets: $20 for adults and $15 for seniors ages 62 and over, as well as for students, military members and children. Tickets for the livestream or digital download are $15. An additional $2 fee will be added for livestream/digital download tickets. Tickets can be purchases online at www.swwdance.org or in person at the Southwest Washington Dance Center at 437 N. Market Blvd. in Chehalis. Tickets may also be available at the front door if available.
If You Go
2023 Gala For The Arts
Time: Reception begins at 5:30 p.m. on April 15, with the performance beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Place: Corbet Theatre in Washington Hall at Centralia College, 600 Centralia College Blvd., Centralia
Tickets: Information will be announced online at www.swwdance.org in the coming weeks. For more information, call the dance center at 360-748-4789.