Growing Strong: Bright Times for Alaska Dance Theatre

By Berardi, Gigi | Dance Magazine, January 2009 | Go to article overview
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Growing Strong: Bright Times for Alaska Dance Theatre


Berardi, Gigi, Dance Magazine


From its humble beginnings in 1981--a Quonset hut with a handful of students--Alaska Dance Theatre has thrived in recent years. Part company, part school, the Anchorage-based organization now serves almost 700 students in its multimillion-dollar facility, which opened its doors in 2005. Here, classes, rehearsals, and performances move between five state-of-the-art studios and a black-box theater, supported by a staff of 30 and approximately 90 volunteers. (The fact that Alaska is an outpost for the oil industry has not hurt funding prospects.)

Artistic director and native Alaskan Alice Bassler Sullivan, who had helped to build preprofessional dance programs at the University of Minnesota and at the School of the Minnesota Ballet, returned to her home state in 1983 to lead ADT. She was determined to build a professional company from a solid student base.

Now in the midst of its 2008-09 season, the ADT company, with its 16 members (a mix of professional dancers and advanced students, including seven high school students), has an active schedule ahead: a winter repertory concert in February at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, where they're the only dance company to have resident status; an appearance in March in Juneau, to take part in the 50th-anniversary celebrations of Alaska's statehood; and in April, a shared concert at ACPA with James Sewell Ballet of Minneapolis.

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