HISTORY OF THE WALLA WALLA DANCE FESTIVAL
The WWDF is a multi-faceted dance arts festival that brings entertaining and thought provoking dance work to the greater Walla Walla Valley. Within the past several years the festival has presented companies from across the country. A list of the performing groups and dance artists in past seasons includes: Donald Byrd, Spectrum Dance from Seattle, guest artists Suzanne Haag and Juan Carlos Amy Cordero from the Eugene Ballet, guest artists Alison Keppel and Peter de Grasse, guest artists Alison Roper and Brett Bauer from Oregon Ballet Theater, contemporary modern dance troupe John Passafiume Dancers from New York City, contemporary modern dance company ODC/Dance from San Francisco, Lorin Latarro Broadway Dancers from NYC, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, and the hip-hop group Nobility Mob from Los Angeles. The reception to performances by these companies has been wildly enthusiastic.
Also, since its inception the festival has hosted numerous informal showings and demonstration/lectures throughout the Walla Walla Valley where audience feedback and question participation has been exuberant and lively. It has also hosted a number of educational opportunities such as with the Walla Walla Public Library’s Terrific Tuesdays for children, and dance classes at the YMCA, the Farm Labor Camp, the Blue Mountain Community College in Milton-Freewater, and on the campuses of Whitman College.
The WWDF is a natural outgrowth of a few different causes. It has a predecessor to its formal establishment in the performances once presented by Summer Dance Lab at Whitman College. Originally each year, faculty and guests of SDL presented dance and musical works on a mixed program that was open to both students and the general public. Coinciding with the faculty and guests performance endeavors was the shaping of an educational component to the SDL program in the formation of the Apprentice Guest Residency Series. The AGRS program brought in visiting guest choreographers and companies to work with students in the creation of dance works. The AGRS program provided students with a deeper and fuller experience of dance and understanding of its ultimate performance goals. Both of these components leant themselves to broader exposure and out into the community at large with performances given in such venues has Pioneer Park on the Fourth of July. Again, the reception to these performances was enthusiastic and from them grew a desire by the community to see more professional dance. This growing desire, combined with the changes taking place in the greater Walla Walla region, made the conceiving of the Walla Walla Dance Festival a natural consequence and development of the rich evolving cultural fabric of its home environs.
“the festival has hosted numerous informal showings and demonstration/lectures….. audience feedback and question participation has been exuberant and lively.”
“reception to performances was enthusiastic and from them grew a desire by the community to see more professional dance.”