Pacific Dance Ensemble alumni Cecily Wechter and Michaela Shoberg will return to their Newport roots this weekend to choreograph performances in “Dances from the Heart,” the ensemble’s 31st anniversary Valentine’s celebration.
The free performance and benefit auction, which runs from Friday, Feb. 10, through Sunday, Feb. 12, will also feature choreography from ensemble Artistic Director Nancy Mittleman and other ensemble members.
“The Lincoln County community web continues to expand as PDE alumni weave themselves into the fiber of new communities and then bring their worlds back to share with us,” Mittleman said.
Wechter is now an internationally based choreographer, launching her career in contemporary dance in Western Iceland, just north of Reykjavik. After leaving Newport, Wechter went on to study and graduate from the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon. She is an alumni of the UO Repertory Dance Company and Lane Dance Company. She is currently teaching community classes in modern dance with an exploration into the Gaga movement style, developed by Ohad Naharin, choreographer of the acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company in Israel.
Shoberg, who studied with Mittleman for 12 years and was an ensemble member for six, went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in dance from San Francisco State University, followed by a master’s in Exercise Physiology from the same institution. She is currently on staff at the Bay Sport Preventive Medical Group and also co-directs Requisitedance in San Francisco. Six members of her company will be performing this weekend in “Dances from the Heart”.
Mittleman founded the Pacific Dance Ensemble as a training ground for young dancers, offering a rigorous program with numerous rehearsals, multiple performances throughout the year and the chance to work hand-in-hand with professional artists.
Ensemble alumni have gone on to study and perform in such places as Juilliard and the Martha Graham Studio in New York, the San Diego Dance Theater and the California Institute for the Arts.
“Dances from the Heart” will be presented at the Newport Performing Arts Center, with performances at 7 pm on Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11, and a 2 pm matinée on Sunday, Feb. 12. This Valentine’s celebration also offers a silent auction featuring items donated by many local and regional artists and businesses.