So moved: Artists dance for love, community

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010

To the women in Peninsulas Artists in Motion, the company is more than just about dance -- although that is a big part of it.

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Photo Courtesy Of Phillip Carpenter
Photo Courtesy Of Phillip Carpenter
Company dancers in Peninsula Artists in Motion rehearse for "Free My Heart," a piece choreographed by Chris Morin, to be performed at their concert in Kenai this weekend.

"It's just really cool that we get together as women and dance. We all have different things going on in our life. It all unites us and keeps us going," said company dancer Megan Weed.

And that's exactly what the organization is doing this weekend with its annual performance at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. The dancers are getting together to do what they enjoy and sharing that with the community.

"Our mission used to be 'to cultivate dance on the Peninsula,'" explained co-artistic director Katrina Carpenter. But the non-profit organization decided to take out the "Peninsula" part to cultivate dance anywhere they can, she said.

We want to "show everyone how important dance is," Carpenter said. And that includes demonstrating how dance comes in all different forms, not just in the typical pink tutu and point shoes.

"We hope we push the envelope a little bit so when people think they've got it figured out, they don't," she said.

The nearly 2-hour show, which is the non-profit organization's main fundraiser, will showcase the company's 17 dancers in a variety of different dance genres, including modern and some ethnic-inspired pieces.

"We have everything from lyrical to Bollywood, a little bit of jazz and rock and roll music, some theatrical pieces," Carpenter said.

One particularly poignant piece Carpenter choreographed seems to be more of a metaphor of life for her and perhaps many of the other dancers in the company. The dance is performed to the song, "Happy," by Leona Lewis.

"It's a pretty emotional piece, it's a personal piece," she said. The dance has four different dancers but they never dance onstage together at the same time.

"The idea is it's the same person going through stages of her life," she said. "It's got a meaning behind it and kind of shows the different sides of a woman and what she goes through in life."

Another more fun series of dances is set to the songs "Heads will roll" by the band the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and "Funhouse" by Pink.

"It's like a kind of Alice in Wonderland in mayhem. There's a queen and Alice and we're kind of her dancing drones, her zombies or whatever," Weed said, who helped choreograph the dance with Carpenter and Heather Schloeman.

Not only is the organization about cultivating dance but it's also about cultivating community.

Another dance will be dedicated to the memory of Takoda Zimmerman, a former dance student at Encore Dance Academy who recently passed away due to the disease adrenoleukodystrophy that leads to progressive brain damage and failure of the adrenal glands.

"He really pushed aside everybody's thoughts about disability and illness," Carpenter said. "They saw past the wheelchair."

Peninsula Artists in Motion is creating a scholarship fund at Wells Fargo in his honor to support children in dance endeavors.

The dance dedicated to Takoda is called, "One Tribe," and was choreographed by the organization's other co-artistic director Tara Slaughter, she said.

"We can all be one tribe and not look at the physical aspects of people," Carpenter said.

Peninsula Artists in Motion seems to be one tribe promoting its art in the community.

"Maybe somewhere we change somebody's ideas about dance or change their life through dance," Carpenter said.

The organization is also working on a New Year's Eve event and fundraiser with the LeeShore Center in Kenai.

"It's a nice cause to partner with other organizations in the community, especially supporting other women," said company dancer Amy Tovoli.

The women in the dance company love dancing and it's apparent through their enthusiasm about the art.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to continue dancing as an adult," Tovoli said. "I danced all through my childhood, I danced in college. It keeps you active and healthy and young."

Carpenter said she likes the way dancing is another outlet of expression.

"It's just one more way to express myself, just being able to dance things when you can't put them into words," she said.

For Weed, dancing in Peninsula Artists in Motion is another type of outlet--one to share and enjoy the art.

"Just because we get older and life goes on we can still get together and do things we love like dance," she said.

Peninsula Artists in Motion will perform its annual concert at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School, with guest performers from the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors and free for kids 5 and under.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at

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