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Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation Invigorates Seattle Dance

Published by Kareen Hardister

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In 1994, four dancers in Seattle, Washington, quickly organized a three-day improvisational dance festival. They had no idea that 17 years later that small event would have evolved into the weeklong Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, well-known and respected in the world’s improvisational dance community.

From August, the annual Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI) again invigorates the improvisational dance scene in Seattle with classes, performances, and more. The festival takes place on Seattle’s Capitol Hill at the Velocity Dance Center and nearby venues.

Promoting Improvisational Dance

The mission of SFDI’s producer, the non-profit Dance Art Group (DAG), is to foster and promote the study, practice, and appreciation of improvisational dance in Seattle. DAG produces not only SFDI but also several other dance workshops and events throughout the year, including a weekly class series with Seattle-area teachers.

Over the years, people from more than 40 states in the U.S. and more than 15 countries have attended SFDI and other DAG events, according to DAG Administrative Director Lila Hurwitz. One teacher wrote that “DAG’s work is pivotal in the international dance scene… it is a key and essential point in the web.”

A Variety of Dance Opportunities

The structure of the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation lets students choose to take up to three classes a day for the entire week. The mid-day intensive classes give students the opportunity for in-depth study with one teacher, while a smorgasbord of morning and afternoon classes lets students experience what other teachers have to offer. Students can sign up for the entire festival or the mid-day intensive class only, or they can drop-in for most of the morning and afternoon classes.

The three intensive class teachers are at the top of their fields. Miguel Gutierrez is a dance and music artist who has received two New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards. K.J. Holmes is a pioneer in improvisation as process and performance, with a strong background in Contact Improvisation and Body-Mind Centering. Susan Rethorst has been a choreographer for more than 30 years and a teacher for more than 20 years.

Dance Performances for the Public

For people who enjoy watching dance, this Seattle dance festival offers performances by SFDI faculty members in the Off the Cuff dance concerts at the Broadway Performance Hall. Each show is different, and the cost is $15/show or $25 for both shows. Tickets are available from Brown Paper Tickets.

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