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Vision & Mission Statement




Directors’ Statement:

We are so excited about what is happening for the Walla Walla Dance Festival that we can’t contain ourselves. It has been an enormously rewarding journey so far. The people we have had the opportunity to work with on this endeavor and the length that we have travelled thus far through the efforts of board members, volunteers, and the participation of audiences has been inspiring.

It is no small dream to think that a large scale multifaceted dance arts festival can take root and thrive where no such model has existed before. Even more so is to believe that such an entity could become a nationally recognized festival; setting down tracks that will hopefully flourish and add to the growth and richness of its home community; one that is open, rich in its own culture, and receptive to the undertaking. It is no easy task. But the commitment, passion, and dedication demonstrated by everyone involved that has gotten us to this point makes me believe that a dream such as this is possible.

This undertaking has already given back in ways that we couldn’t imagine and stretched us personally in ways that we could not have foreseen. We hope that you will join us in this journey; realizing the creation of something that can give back to the community, playing a vital role both in bringing rewarding dance arts entertainment and the rich exchange of ideas and culture that the arts can provide to the greater Walla Walla region. We are creating a dance arts festival that will grow and mature, and over time become something unique and enduring.

John Passafiume
Co-Artistic Director

Following a long performing career in Modern Dance, Mr. Passafiume is recognized as one of the leading choreographers in New York City. John was a principal dancer with the Paul Sanasardo Dance Company from 1981-1986, and a member of the legendary Anna Sokolows Players Project from 1984-1994. He was a part of the creation of many important dance works seen today as essential parts of modern dance vocabulary. John worked personally with Ernestine Stodelle as she reconstructed the works of Doris Humphrey, Jose Limon, and Charles Weidman. His exposure to these important figures helped form the singular kinetic esthetic that is part of his work today.

John formed John Passafiume Dancers in NYC in 1993. He has made numerous works for the company that have been performed to critical acclaim in NYC and residencies across the northeastern U.S. His latest work, Fissures, inspired NY Times critic Jennifer Dunning to write Dance, like music, can express profound and complicated emotions with remarkable immediacy, whether or not there is a narrative or theme Fissures is a perfect example. As a response to a duet in a work in progress, Joe Raiola, Director of Theater Within, wrote From the start the stakes are highthats the hallmark of Passafiumes work. He's concerned with big issues and he explores them fearlessly.

As a teacher, John believes in the importance of strong technique and individual artistic development. Evidence of his success as a teacher is the number of SDL students who have emerged as professional dancers across the nation. Director of Summer Dance Lab since 2003, he uses the breadth of his experience to foster a supportive environment in which he and his carefully selected faculty guide students toward technical excellence and individual artistry.

Lydia Tetzlaff
Co-Artistic Director

Ms. Tetzlaffs professional career as performer and teacher has been one of particular breadth and diversity.

After training with Victoria Leigh of American Ballet Theater (ABT), she completed her training on a full two-year scholarship with the Houston Ballet, performing with the company in their classical productions. Lydia went on to solo with the Fort Wayne Ballet and Alabama Ballet under the direction of Dame Sonia Arova, and, later, Wes Chapman of ABT. She performed principal roles in classics such as Swan Lake, Raymonda, Balanchines Divertimento #15, the Nutcracker, and Dracula,and created roles in Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and numerous contemporary and modern works.

Lydia moved to the realm of modern dance while in Birmingham, dancing with Southern Danceworks under the direction of Teri Weksler of Mark Morris Dance Group, creating many roles, and enjoying a more collaborative process. In 2000, she moved to NYC and started dancing with the John Passafiume Dancers. She also has performed in NYC with Eliot Felds Ballet Tech, Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY, and Battery Dance Company with which she performed in over fifteen countries.

While Lydia's teaching is informed by her experience with classical ballet, contemporary ballet, and modern dance, it is also shaped by her experiences abroad, including concentrated time in the Middle East. She was the recipient of a Culture Connect grant from the US State Department under which she taught classes for Caracalla, the national company of Lebanon, and in SOS Orphan Villages in Jordan.

Lydia recognizes the importance of diversity in todays aspiring dancers and calls upon her own rich experience to guide young dancers toward fulfillment of their talents. She believes in a rigorous and lively approach to learning, and is happy to be teaching at Summer Dance Lab.

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