Orcas dancers bring art to life on Center Stage

Anthony The Dancer has built a life around the art of movement.

He also has a deep appreciation for work from the Renaissance era, and for the time in his career has combined the two for two nights of music, dance and art featuring the Island Inspirational All-Stars dance group.

“It’s probably one of the most artistic shows I’ve done,” Anthony said. “I’m always excited for the dancers, but I’m equally excited for the audience. People don’t need to go to the city to see this. You couldn’t bring any group to Orcas that could out-dance us.”

“The Nocturnes” will be presented on the Orcas Center main stage on Sept. 10 and 11 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $17, $13 for students and $2 off for center members; $5 subsidized tickets available at the box office.

The modern and contemporary ballet dances are inspired by artists like Rodin, Botticelli and Raphael as well as the music of Mozart, Bach and Chopin.

“We are bringing the pieces to life,” Anthony said.

World renowned ballet pianist Lisa Harris will be playing a selection of Nocturnes by Chopin and other works. She and Anthony have been friends for 20 years, but this is their first artistic collaboration. Harris is a former Orcas resident who now lives in Seattle.

The cast of dancers is Tiffany Loney, Jessica Kruger, Samantha Sprenger, Charles Dalton, Gail Bulletset, Aristotle Luna, Katie Zwilling, Anwyn Thompson and Kalie McGinnis. Some of his students are first-time dancers.

“There is a sense of familiarity with everyone, but at the same time everyone is still learning.”

The All-Stars’ last show, featuring African and Brazilian dance, was in March at the Sea View Theatre. It was so popular that a second performance was added. With “The Nocturnes,” he focused on strengthening his dancers’ technique.

“It re-inspires me all the time and reminds me of why I do this,” he said. “The magic of seeing someone finally get something – that never gets old.”

Anthony used to present two shows a year at Orcas Center but his last production there was in 2009. He says he is looking forward to bringing his dancers’ work to the center’s audiences.

Anthony has been teaching dance off and on in the San Juans for 12 years, leading classes in everything from tap to ballet to salsa. He was a professional choreographer based out of Los Angeles prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest. He still choreographs for shows all over the country via video chat. Anthony says he is a spontaneous choreographer who doesn’t plan what to create until he steps in front of his students.

“I take the energy that is there and allow the dancers to shape it,” he said.