Celebrate dance with Whidbey Island Dance Theatre

— Created June 2, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Not only is Whidbey Island Dance Theatre offering a Celebration of Dance Friday and Saturday, it is a celebration of a return to some normalcy.

After more than a year of pandemic-induced event cancellations and a move to virtual performances, WIDT and its company of dancers are returning to live, in-person performances this weekend, to be held at Whidbey Children’s Theatre, 723 Camano Avenue, in Langley. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings and there will be a 2 p.m. matinee performance followed by a silent auction from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Ticket prices start at $15 and can be purchased online at widtonline.org.

The annual spring Celebration of Dance is just that – a celebration of dancers’ individual strengths presented through contemporary, cutting-edge choreography.

“Every year, we like to showcase in-house, outside-Whidbey, and young, emerging choreographers in our show,” said Char Brown, co-artistic director of WIDT. “[The choreographers] bring such diverse dance pieces, which showcases the beautiful artistry of our WIDT company dancers.”

There are 15 dancers in the company, plus five alumni dancers and guest artists from Seattle who will be performing this year. Brown said they are all looking forward to being in front of an audience again.

“Our company dancers really need the live audience in front of them,” she said. “As young performers, feeling the energy and applause from the audience is so fulfilling. This makes all their hard work so worthwhile. And being able to entertain an audience is so important to their growth as a dancer/artist.”

Brown said the best thing about working on this Celebration of Dance presentation is knowing the dancers will be able to be back on stage in front of the community and share their art in person. She said members of the company, like everyone else this last year, have been through a lot.

“We know our dancers have been through a lot emotionally this year,” Brown said. “They have trained on Zoom, then back in the classroom, then back on Zoom and then returned to the classroom! They have been amazing working through all they do for their schooling, dance, family – and just life. We are so proud of them.”

And, even as life begins to move slowly back to normal as the pandemic’s hold begins to loosen its grip, health and safety are still front and center for members of WIDT and its audiences. Changes brought about by COVID-19, while not part of the routine previously, have become an essential element to planning any event like this.

“Because we had a virtual ‘Nutcracker’ and worked through all the protocols involved in rehearsing and putting that show on, we knew what was needed to rehearse for Celebration of Dance,” said Brown. “In this show, all pieces are individually rehearsed with the dancers and their choreographers, making everything easier.

“We are at half-capacity in the theater for seating, all doors and windows will be open,” she continued. “Tickets are for sale online and the audience will enter from the outside. Ushers will be seating all audience members and social distancing will be enforced while waiting in line, entering the theater and using the restrooms.”

The safety protocols extend to Saturday’s silent auction as well, which will be held in large white tents outside the theater between 3 and 7 p.m., giving people space to move around and check out the assortment of more than 50 unique auction items.

“They include things ranging from homemade dinners delivered to your door to large deck pots with potting soil,” described Brittany Falso, WIDT co-artistic director. “[There are] professional services such as acupuncture, massage, yard work and house cleaning; gift certificates from a variety of local businesses; and a Wine and Spirits Tour gift basket along with many others, including beauty products and specialty foods.” 

Falso said it’s simple to participate in the silent auction; those interested need to check in and get a bidding number. Most items will be available for pickup following the second show on Saturday. For those who want to take their item(s) immediately, there is also a “buy now” option. Items won by those not present after the second show will be saved and pickup or delivery will be arranged.

All in all, Brown said the dancers are looking forward to being back on the stage, expressing their “hidden language of the soul.”

“We hope audiences will just sit back and enjoy the art of dance and the beauty of our choreographer’s pieces,” she said. “Please come and support our wonderful nonprofit organization, Whidbey Island Dance Theatre. We really need our community’s support and our company and choreographers would love to see them all in the Whidbey Children’s Theatre seats, enjoying the art of dance.”

To learn more or to purchase tickets, go to widtonline.org.