Young dancer turns producer for senior project

Dancing is a kind of poetry for the feet, and one South End teenager has been moving in what he might call haikus of happiness since he was 5.

Choreographer and producer Graham Vanderwood rehearses with Eva Sherlock for the upcoming “Other Moves” dance concert to be presented at South Whidbey High School Auditorium Saturday and Sunday

Choreographer and producer Graham Vanderwood rehearses with Eva Sherlock for the upcoming “Other Moves” dance concert to be presented at South Whidbey High School Auditorium Saturday and Sunday

Dancing is a kind of poetry for the feet, and one South End teenager has been moving in what he might call haikus of happiness since he was 5.

But now, for a completely different look at the world of dance, dancer and choreographer Graham Vanderwood took the role of producer of this year’s annual “Other Moves” dance concert, a fundraiser for Island Dance competition teams. The benefit will be presented for the first time in the South Whidbey High School auditorium March 21 and 22.

Vanderwood took on the production duties, along with dancing and choreographing some of the show, as his Whidbey Island Academy senior project.

Under the mentorship of Charlene Brown, owner of Island Dance and one of Vanderwood’s dance teachers for the past 13 years, Vanderwood said he took a big leap when he entered the business side of dance.

“I’m having to learn a lot as I go,” he said.

“There’s a lot of e-mailing, phoning, getting sponsorships, talking to newspapers, doing the posters. The hardest part is the communication. Talking on the phone to me is like walking on Mars, but I’ve had to get it done.”

Vanderwood said he’s had a lot of help from Brown and the artistic directors of the show, Lori Moore and Susan Vanderwood, his mom.

But the young producer also had his own ideas about how things should be done.

In a show of the true mark of a producer, Vanderwood decided the Island Dance studio was not the right venue for the concert.

“I decided a new venue would allow us to invite more people and allow us to do more with lights. Lighting can make or break a show,” he said.

The high school auditorium has both; a good number of lights and a large capacity seating of 600, which should make the show a more lucrative fundraiser for the competition teams from the Clinton dance school.

The show will feature all styles of contemporary dance including hip hop, lyrical, jazz and tap dances choreographed by local choreographers — as well as by special guests from Seattle — for a total of 17 pieces.

Vanderwood choreographed a piece entitled “Move Your Feet” from the song of the same title by the Danish pop band Junior Senior.

He choreographed the piece for seven dancers, including himself, who have recently formed the dance team “Solid.”

It sprung from a spontaneity that he said is a running theme in his life: using everything around him to inspire dances.

“It’s the happiest song

I could find,” Vanderwood said.

“I wanted to do a happy dance.”

Vanderwood said that’s how he generally rolls in the world, happy, trying to bring out the good in everything he does. It’s his answer to the gray days of the Whidbey Island winter, he said; make a happy dance and feel better.

Vanderwood said dancing is in his blood, and he wants to pursue it as a professional career in California. It runs in his family, in fact.

Like his mom, his sister Andrea Burr is also a dancer and choreographer. She lives in Seattle and will be featured in “Other Moves,” as well as will Vanderwood’s younger brother Zane, 12, also a dancer.

When asked if producing might be something he would do again, Vanderwood wasn’t daunted by the complexity of pulling together the upcoming show.

“I want to be more efficient, do more advertising.

I have a good handle on that now. I know what producing is all about.”

The choreographers of the fifth annual “Other Moves” concert are Graham Vanderwood, Susan Vanderwood, Andrea Burr, Heather Plumberg, Arryn Davis, Amy Arand, Charlene Brown, Aaron Cash, Aaron Gordon and Jamee Pitts.

The cast includes Jachen Mackner, Heather Plumberg, Raelani McLean Kesler, Misha Flem, Carol Lloyd, Margot Bee, Amy Arand, Grace Swanson, Zane Vanderwood, Graham Vanderwood, Melissa Smith, Weslee Doucette, Emily Doucette, Emily Rookstool, Abigail Rookstool, Grace Rookstool, Cassie Neil, Sylvia Hurlburt, Jessica Barker, Avery Grant, Elliauna Madsen, Arryn Davis, Chantelle Brown, Alex Firth, Eva Sherlock and two guest performance groups from Seattle.

The show is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students age 18 and younger. Call Island Dance at 341-1282 or go to the box office at Island Dance at Ken’s Korner.

A master class will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 21 at Island Dance, where dancers will have the opportunity to learn from a top Seattle choreographer. The class is $15 per student.

All proceeds benefit Island Dance’s competition teams.

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