Northwest Dance Project: Portland's Cutting-Edge Contemporary Dance Company
Number of dancers: Currently 9, but usually 10
Style: Contemporary ballet
Company history: Artistic director Sarah Slipper founded the organization in 2004. (Slipper is also one of the company’s main choreographers.)
What makes NWDP different: The company performs all original, commissioned work. Slipper brings in choreographers from all over the world to create pieces that range from three-minute dances to 25-minute concert works. Last September, NWDP celebrated the creation of its 100th new piece!
Dance skills needed: “NWDP dancers have to be fast, fast, fast learners,” says executive director Scott Lewis. They have to get each piece into their bodies and then retain it quickly. “One time we did ten world premieres in two nights of performances,” he says. Last fall, in the span of a two-month creation period, the dancers learned four new works. NWDP dancers live on the creative edge.
What is LAUNCH?: LAUNCH projects are workshops affiliated with NWDP that bring together professional-level dancers (ages 16–25) with guest artistic directors and choreographers. There are two LAUNCH programs: a two-week summer project, which includes a performance, and a one-week winter project. At LAUNCH, dancers get the chance to explore different movement styles and to network. They also get a crash course in career management. Artistic directors and choreographers at LAUNCH get to test out pieces of choreography and movement on LAUNCH dancers.
To date, NWDP and LAUNCH have helped 45 dancers land jobs. NWDP also uses LAUNCH to find dancers for its own company. “This way, we can see dancers for a week or two, which helps us determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for us,” Lewis says.
Slipper’s advice for young dancers who dream of working with NWDP: All prospective NWDP dancers must have a strong ballet base, but they also need to augment that with a variety of movement styles. With so many choreographers creating on them, NWDP dancers have to be able to adapt instantly. “I’m only interested in those who are committed, have drive and a willingness to be open and fearless,” Slipper says.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.