Whidbey Dance Theater may join national ranks

"Whidbey Dance Theater may be toe-to-toe with the likes of such dance companies as the Conservatory Ballet of Washington, Olympic Ballet Theater, Santa Barbara Chamber Ballet, Tucson Ballet, and Utah Regional Ballet Theater if it is accepted into the Regional Dance Association of America.Members of the South Whidbey dance troupe have been invited to audition for inclusion in the prestigious association of dance companies. Fourteen dancers from WDT will participate in the audition May 8 through 12 at the Regional Dance America/Pacific Festival 2001 in Orem, Utah, where they will be adjudicated by impartial members of the dance community.This is a huge opportunity for WDT, said Diane Watson, president of the Whidbey Dance Theater board. They don't usually invite a group unless they are sure you will make it, she said. Regional Dance America, formerly the National Association for Regional Ballet, began in 1956 when eight companies met in Atlanta, Ga. to share choreography classes and performances. The success of this first dance festival led to the formation of other regions, and in 1966 the Pacific Northwest Region was founded.Its purpose is to further the image of resident companies, giving regional ballet companies national stature. WDT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting Whidbey Island dancers.The cost of taking them to Utah is $750 per girl, so we welcome donations, Watson said. Becoming a member of RDA will increase the stature and learning opportunities of WDT. On another front, members of Whidbey Dance Theater and Island Dance students have auditioned for participation in summer programs hosted by Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. About 16 of the top national programs hold their auditions for summer workshops at PNWB. Local dancers accepted into summer programs include Katelyn Candelario, who was invited to the Summer Dance Lab at the Boston Ballet; Alexis Daly, accepted into the Rock School (the official school of the Pennsylvania Ballet), Walnut Hill in Boston, the Boston Ballet, the Jiilana School in New Mexico and the Krov Ballet School in Washington D.C. On the waiting list for Jiilana are Katelyn Candelario, Lauren Mack, Katy Riggs and Kate Yates.The dancers are continuing to develop and improve their technique while taking lessons at Island Dance under the tutelage of Dr. Susan Campbell Sandri, said Charlene Brown, director of Island Dance. "

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