Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah choreographer’s Penguin Lady Dance Collective takes flight
Dance » Utah choreographer Natosha Washington brings her collective to Rose Wagner center.
First Published Aug 30 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Sep 02 2014 08:38 am

Salt Lake choreographer Natosha Washington brings 17 dancers and several arts organizations together under the same roof with her latest brainchild, The Penguin Lady Dance Collective, this weekend at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Washington is a familiar figure in Salt Lake’s modern-dance scene as co-founder of the RawMoves dance company, and her choreography is in the repertoires of professional companies and collegiate national and international touring programs. But this is a first for presenting an entire evening of her own work.

At a glance

Happy feet

The Penguin Lady, presented by loveDANCEmore, is a project of choreographer Natosha Washington (shown at right). The evening of nine dances is 75 minutes long and explores the individual and collective identities of the dancers while challenging notions of beauty and acceptance. More details at seethepenguinlady.com.

When » Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 4 - 6, 8 p.m.

Where » Leona Wagner Black Box, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $20; arttix.org or 801-355-ARTS (2787)

Dancing with The Penguin Lady

Company members:

Corinne Selena Penka

Nathan Shaw

Rosy Goodman Tennant

Eileen Rojas

Tyler Kunz

Jennifer Beaumont

Sofia Gorder

Danell Hathaway

Erin Romero

Sarah Franco

Sarah Donohue

Megan O’Brien

Monica Campbell

Rebecca Stahr Jennejohn

Jersey Rio Riemo

Lehua Brown

Natosha Washington

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I was fortunate to be able to tap into the talented community of veteran dance artists here in Utah," she said. "They’ve not only been devoted to the hours and hours of rehearsal time but have taken on behind-the-scenes jobs from web design to costuming."

Each of the 17 dancers in the collective has performed and trained professionally. Most of them have university degrees in dance, and many are educators throughout Utah’s noted system of high-school, middle-school or college dance departments; Washington herself is the dance teacher at Northwest Middle School.

"Natosha is a master educator who dared to use the whole community," Rowland Hall dance teacher Sofia Gorder said. "She knows our strengths. She knows that when I move I eat up space; that Danell [Hathaway] crafts amazing ideas …and who could resist watching little Corinne [Selena Penka] dance her heart out onstage?"

Washington says her work is built on honesty and valuing individuals rather than the stereotypical ideal of a dancer — something she experienced firsthand and learned the hard way. "I had teachers tell me that I shouldn’t dance because I didn’t have a dancer’s body and that I should work on the combination [steps] in the back of the studio."

But while majoring in dance at the University of Utah, one of her teachers, now the department chairman Stephen Koester, asked what she planned to do after college. When Washington said she wanted to explore choreography, Koester responded, "Then why are you so worried about things that have nothing to do with choreography?"

It wasn’t long before Washington’s work was showcased in the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center. The piece titled "House of Timothy" received the Best Performance award and was featured in Dance Magazine.

A piece from Washington’s more recent past in this weekend’s performance is her solo, "The Penguin Lady." The companion narrative and text describes "different events in my life, which include moments of humor, struggle and realizations." But Washington is reserving further explanation of the Penguin Lady moniker for those who attend the performance.

As important as the creative ingredient is for pulling together a performance, the administrative headaches and production costs are equally significant. For help, Washington turned to local dance advocate Ashley Anderson, whose not-for-profit organization loveDANCEmore has a remarkable track record for solving seemingly impossible problems.


story continues below
story continues below

"I wanted to help Natosha because I appreciate what she has done for the community. So through my 501c3 status as an arts organization, I am able to offer fiscal sponsorships to independent dance artists," Anderson said. "It’s become a recognizable need — the administrative costs aren’t enormous — but they are enormous if each independent dance artist has to purchase their own insurance or file for their own 501c3 status to make them eligible for state and county funding. But if those resources are shared, it makes a lot more sense and gives artists time to do what they do best."

Rachel Nance, the principal at Northwest Middle School, said that what Washington does best is multifaceted. "Her reach as a dance teacher goes far beyond the movement itself, using community dance to develop collegiality among the faculty and to build self-esteem in students and a sense of pride in their school."

Nance said Washington’s inclusive attitude was just what school officials were looking for when they focused their mission on "using the arts to give positive experiences to students so they would invest in themselves, honor each other as courageous people and take positive risks."

Risk-taking runs in Washington’s family. She and her brother and sister were raised in southeast Georgia, where her father was the first African-American LDS bishop. Kevin and Marie Washington and their family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1978, the same year the Utah-based faith ended its ban on blacks serving in its all-male priesthood.

"Daddy was in the stake presidency for 10 years," Washington said. "He was just released about two weeks ago, and I am so excited they’ve moved to Salt Lake."

Her parents will be a nice addition to the dance family Washington has built around herself. In an increasingly complicated arts world, she admits it took "a lot of love and support from a lot of people" to keep this Penguin Lady balanced on the ice floe.

More dance in September

Ririe-Woodbury

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s fall season juxtaposes three male choreographic voices from around the world. More details at www.ririewoodbury.com/performances/current-season/fall-season.

When » Sept. 25-27, 7:30 p.m.

Where » Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $35, arttix.org or 801-297-4241

Movement Forum

Movement Forum (aka MoFo) commissioned five nationally and internationally recognized artists for its Mine Goes to 11 performance. More details at www.akamofo.com.

When » Sept. 19-20, 7 p.m.

Where » University of Utah Marriott Center for Dance, 330 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets » $20, $15 faculty/staff/seniors, $10 students

Two Boots

Two Boots — dance artists Katherine Adler and Samantha Matsukawa — are presenting “Dylan Dances,” their first evening-length dance performance. With a troupe of traveling troubadours, the dancers will explore the myth, mystery and magic of the music legend Bob Dylan. More information at http://twoboots.squarespace.com.

When » Sept. 19-20, 9:30 p.m.

Where » Outdoors at 252 Edison St. in Salt Lake City, near Diabolical Records and Big Cartel

Tickets » Donations of $5-$15 appreciated



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.