Expect heartfelt performances in Newport this weekend as members of the Pacific Dance Ensemble take to the stage for a pair of free performances to offer thanks to a supportive community.
Entitled “Dances From the Heart,” the performances will take place at 7 pm on Saturday, Feb. 10, and 2 pm on Sunday, Feb. 11, each accompanied by a silent auction packed with items donated by local merchants.
“PDE offers these performances as a Valentine’s gift to the community,” said ensemble director Nancy Mittleman, “in heartfelt recognition of all the wonderful support and skills they have acquired growing up in Lincoln County.”
This year’s shows celebrate PDE’s 32nd anniversary with original choreography by alumni Cecily Wechter and Kurt Danna as well as current members, Erika Sugrue, Leela Kreis-Stokes and Anabel Tucker as well as Mittleman herself.
“The Lincoln County community web continues to expand,” Mittleman said, “as PDE alumni weave themselves into the fiber of new communities and then bring their worlds back to share with us in this year’s ‘Dances from the Heart.’”
After studying with PDE for many years, Wechter went on to graduate from the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon. She currently teaches modern dance, including an exploration into the Gaga movement style, developed by Ohad Naharin, choreographer and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company. She has been a guest teacher at Mittleman’s summer Dance Intensives for the past two years and is currently teaching at PDE while Mittleman heals from a hip replacement.
Wechter said her choreography for this year’s “Dances From the Heart” was inspired by the imposing stone memorials of a graveyard near Reykjavik, where she has been developing her dance career for the past two years.
Kurt Danna danced with PDE for 10 years before going on to study design management, music and art at the Art Institute of Portland. At this year’s performances, he will present a piece he choreographed, set to music he composed.
Other performances prepared for the show include dances set to opera and jazz, a traditional pointe ballet piece, and a duet by Anabel Tucker and Madyson Fortmeyer set to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Feeling Groovy.”
As well as enjoying the show, guests can browse and bid on a range of items in the silent auction, with all proceeds helping PDE continue bringing cultural enrichment to the community. Programs include engaging in exchange programs with national and international dance groups; offering lecture demonstrations in local schools; commissioning guest choreographers, artists and dancers to enrich Lincoln County dancers; taking students to performances in other cities; and bringing performances to the Newport Performing Arts Center.
PDE was conceived as a training ground for young dancers interested in pursuing a career in dance. PDE dancers follow a rigorous program with numerous rehearsals, multiple performances throughout the year, touring and continually working hand-in-hand with professional artists to create mature works for the general public.
PDE alumni have gone on to study and perform in such places as The Juilliard School in New York City, the San Francisco Ballet and The Laban School in London.
“Dances from the Heart” will be performed at 7 pm on Saturday, Feb. 10, and 2 pm on Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Newport Performing Arts Center, 777 W Olive Street. Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted.
For more information, call 541-265-ARTS.