Relay Dance Collective
Who are you & what do you do?
We're a Shunpike-affiliated dance ensemble that aims to build community through dance, foster diverse expression and bring high-caliber performances to the stage. We hold annual sold-out shows, presenting original work and collaborating with choreographers and musicians in Seattle.
Why & when did you start your company?
Co-directors Austin Sexton, Gabrielle Gainor, Tess Wendel and Jasmine Morgan met during their childhood years dancing at Dance Fremont! Here, they had the opportunity to work with members of the Jose Limon dance company, Mark Morris Dance Group and Paul Taylor, to name a few. They trained under Mary Reardon and Vivian Little, and performed in Fremont Danceworks, Dance Fremont's prestigious teen troupe. The four women went their separate ways after high school, and all took different routes in the arts (though remained close friends). After dancing for Bellingham Repertory Dance, a nonprofit where dancers share artistic and administrative responsibilities, Gainor felt it would be possible for her and her friends to start their own group in Seattle. After a meeting at Gainor's house in November, 2012, the four women officially created Relay Dance Collective together.
What type of dance does your company focus on?
We're a modern-dance company that works with a variety of choreographers whose artistic creations run the gamut from contemporary ballet to the experimental and avant garde. We work hard to make sure that our shows are both provocative, as well as entertaining and accessible.
What's the most memorable dance experience your company has shared, & what made it so special?
It's hard to think of just one. Selling out Velocity Dance Theater three nights in a row at our last show, "RDC3" was pretty cool. Holding our first-ever audition and having so many talented dancers show up was also pretty awe-inspiring.
Describe your company in one word:
What do you all enjoy doing when not dancing together?
Tess: Hiking, Backpacking and Climbing. Tess has a pretty awesome gig at The Mountaineers.
Jasmine: Spending time with her adorable infant son Vincent and her "other baby" Smoky, the dog.
Austin: Right now, Austin is planning her upcoming WEDDING to her fiancee Ashley. But usually, Austin is dancing (either performing or teaching!). Especially considering her mom, Jenny Hillock, co-founded Spectrum Dance Theater. She's also an accomplished singer.
Gabrielle: Gabrielle loves her job at Seattle Opera and volunteering as a board member for Seattle JACL. She's also the wife of a rapper! (Casey G. of The Bad Tenants). The Gainors recently purchased their first home in White Center and so Gabrielle has been enjoying learning how to be handy.
If you were to compare your work to a superhero, who would it be & why?
Relay is a wide and all encompassing group made of diverse individuals, more than just the four of us, so you could say that we're the X-Men (and X-Women). Though instead of peace and understanding between normal humans and mutants, we aim to bridge the gap between dance lovers and newcomers to our art form.
What will you be presenting/performing at the fundraiser?
A solo choreographed and performed by RDC Co-Director Jasmine Morgan.
Why do you choose to make dance, and specifically why in Seattle?
This is our home and our community, and for us, it's more meaningful to create the kind of dance we wish to see in the world right here.
What are some interesting/little-known facts about your company?
1. We are now a Shunpike affiliated arts organization which is huge for us! Shunpike is a Seattle nonprofit that gives fiscal sponsorship to worthy arts groups who apply to be under their umbrella, and we're thrilled to join the family.
2. We've all known each other for almost 20 years!
3. Gabrielle gives everyone in the group strange and unfortunate nicknames, but we love her anyway. (Most of the time).
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
We heart Intrepidus Dance!