On the Boards (Seattle, WA)

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Dance performance photo: dark ground with backlit dancer in upper right casting a shadow towards a crouching dancer in lower left

Internationally lauded choreographer Crystal Pite will be filmed as part of OntheBoards.tv. Photo by Dean Buscher.

Seattle-based On the Boards (OtB) has been introducing Northwestern audiences to an innovative and global array of contemporary dance, music, and theater since 1978. Having presented international dance artists such as Dorky Park (Berlin) and Faustin Linyekula (Congo) as well as U.S. artists such as Reggie Wilson (NYC), OtB remains equally committed to promoting the work of artists within the region, as it has done with choreographers like Mark Morris and Pat Graney. It does so through a variety of programs and initiatives ranging from its Northwest Series to its video-on-demand site, OntheBoards.tv. Serving a core audience of students, artists, and technology and creative professionals, the organization draws 12,000-17,000 patrons annually online and to the Behnke Center for Contemporary Performance in Seattle, where it is housed.

On the Boards has been awarded an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $20,000 to support a unique range of dance performances, activities, and presentations from January-June 2011. They include an Inter/National Series performance, Narrative Ballet, by choreographer Sarah Michelson, Northwest Series productions of new works from Crystal Pite (Dark Matters) and Catherine Cabeen (Into the Void), performances for the 28th annual Northwest New Works Festival, and the second installment of the dance competition, The A.W.A.R.D. Show! Seattle, organized in partnership with New York’s Joyce Theater. The grant will also fund the high-definition filming and distribution of several performances for OntheBoards.tv. Outreach and humanities programming, including online podcasts, audience review bogs, master classes and Q&A sessions, will also benefit from the grant.

Catherine Cabeen will perform in On the Boards’ 2010/2011 Season. Photo by Julietta Cervantes.

By introducing audiences to new works from a range of innovative artists both in-theater and online, On the Boards is able to broaden artist visibility for audiences while generating community dialogue between the two. With the help of the NEA grant and under the direction of Artistic and Managing Directors Lanes Czaplinski and Sarah Wilke, OtB’s upcoming performances promise to enhance its already unique program structure. Pite’s Dark Matter, for instance, will feature puppetry, Voltaire and Pite’s athletically nuanced choreography while Michelson’s Narrative Ballet will employ ballet and modern dancers, actors, and musicians to create a 21st century narrative of the dance form.