Tint Dance Festival sets the Stage for Artists of Color

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A fusion of contemporary, hip-hop, tap, Hawaiian and African dance is set to hit the stage at the Tint Dance Festival on Feb. 9-10. The founders of the festival Sue Ann Huang and Arlene Martin, hope to raise critical awareness around racial and ethnic representation in the greater Seattle community by featuring choreographers and dancers of color. The vision of the festival is to open up the conversation so that artists and audiences will be inspired to reflect on and discuss their own diverse experiences around identity.

Huang, an assistant director for Housing and Residence Life at Seattle University thought of the idea after several years of going to different auditions and noticing that the choreographers and dancers were predominantly white.

“We were just reflecting on it a little bit more and we were like, ‘I wonder if we could look into creating an opportunity that would focus on being a little bit more intentional on creating space for people of color to be dancing in the community,’” Huang said.

Huang then worked with Martin to put together the festival that features different pieces from a diverse set of choreographers and dancers.

Mary Tisa, one of the featured choreographers, was inspired to create her piece a er traveling to Greece with her husband.

“It was just a random day trip and I was just struck by it. […] I was walking through and just, it’s crazy because I didn’t even know about it but this island was a deeply sacred place,” Tisa said. “Some people thought it was the birthplace of Apollo.”

From this experience, Tisa replicated the sights and emotions in her contemporary piece “Delos”, where she found inspiration from the ancient ruins on the island.

“I’m a really visual person and my piece starts with six dancers in a diagonal line and I took a picture of these short pieces of column where there were six in a row. at was one component where I was thinking what I had seen and incorporated it into the dance,” Tisa said.

The festival showcases pieces that differ vastly from each other, which Huang says is what sets it apart from other dance shows in Seattle.

“Sometimes you go to a show and it all seems like they have a similar theme and they get a little bit repetitive, and I’m pretty sure no one we will be able to say that a er seeing our show,” Huang said. “There’s a benefit to what art and dance can be when you have a diverse group of bodies and people and the dance community of Seattle should pay a bit more attention to that.”

As a dancer at the festival and a graduate student at Seattle U, Isabelle Wroblewski says the festival was a different experience for her because it gave her a lot more freedom, since it was her first endeavor that was not associated with a school name.

“It was the first project I’ve ever been in that focuses on the identities of the dancers more than creating a piece of movement,” Wroblewski said.

Wroblewski is a dancer in Noelle Price’s piece, which fuses together the styles of contemporary and Afro dance. In every piece featured in the festival, over half of each cast is comprised of people of color.

“The mission of Tint allows people to be who they are and express [it] in a way that is open to everyone with different levels of mobility with different backgrounds,” Wroblewski said. “Not everyone in the project is a professional dancer or went to school for dance.”

The festival features guest companies such as Au Collective. Northwest Tap. Au Collective brings empowered people of color and allies on stage to create multi-racial dance art and Northwest Tap Connections is an urban dance studio that specializes in modern tap. Northwest Tap Connections also incorporates a variety of dance styles such as African, jazz, modern, ballet, swing, ballroom and hip-hop into their curriculum and performances.

After the showcase of the pieces, there will be a Q and A panel where audience members can express any thoughts and ask questions to the artists involved.

“It will be interesting to see once people are done with the festival how they felt about their experience [compared] with other festivals,” Huang said.

Expanding definitions and genres of dance is not only a present theme within the festival, but a question Huang prompts community members to ask about the Seattle art scene in general.

“How can we expand what dance can be so that it breathes of experiences and breathes of what the art community in Seattle continues to grow and become something new?” Huang asked.

Discounted tickets are available for the 8 p.m. show on Feb. 3. Huang said it was important for tickets to be accessible for students and members of the community who might need cheaper tickets. All tickets are available online at tintdancefestival.com

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