Meet the Artistic Director!

03 November 2015 | 0 Comments


Dance Background

Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Robert Guitron has been at the helm of Polaris Dance Theatre since its inception in 2002, where in the past 13 years he has created 337 new works of dance. He continues to map the organization’s artistic vision, physical growth, and success in the Portland area and beyond. Guitron’s 35+ years working in dance has taken him throughout the U.S., Canada, Italy, Japan and China, performing, teaching and choreographing for many prestigious dance companies, schools and performing arts organizations. Aside from his repertory work, Guitron’s credits and accolades come from his involvement in many outreach programs, operatic performances, musicals, music videos, and collaborations with corporations, artists and charitable organizations.

Guitron’s mission is to nurture the next generation of dancers through his signature teaching and guidance. His students have been accepted into both national and international dance companies and colleges, such as Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, KDNY, Jose Limon Company, The Julliard School, CalArts, Carolina School of the Arts, Cornish, DisneyLand and Batsheva Dance Company to name a few.

The Oregon Arts Commission supports three grant programs and funds them through the State of Oregon and the Oregon Cultural Trust as well as federal dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts. Guitron was one of 13 Oregon artists approved by the Oregon Arts Commission for the 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship funding.

Guitron is at his happiest both professionally and personally when he gets to share his life-long passion for dance, music and the arts.

Music Background

Like most choreographers, Guitron has a passion for music of all genres and an extensive music library to choose from when planning new work. Even so, there are times when it is impossible to find the right piece of music to fit an entire work of dance. Faced with this challenge many choreographers resort to splicing different selections of music together. Being an accomplished musician, Guitron prefers to compose his own score as he has done for about 1/3 of his own company’s works. Some of his compositions can be found and downloaded from iTunes.

Born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Guitron’s father was a jazz drummer and performed in the local clubs. Since early childhood, Guitron has played many instruments including the accordion, the flute, the sax and the clarinet. Later he picked up piano and began training in classical music theory and composition. He also played saxophone in a fusion jazz band called Homemade Jam. As a child, it was not in his nature to play music as it was written, which often frustrated his instructors. One instructor compromised by advising Guitron to play a piece as he felt it should have been written in addition to making an effort to play it in the existing version. This began a life long passion for original composition. His musical compositions have been featured in many mediums such as music videos and movie scores.

Guitron’s scores are based in a modern classical style. However, he enjoys mixing in contemporary music chord progressions and tempos to create specific effects. He composes his work digitally using a keyboard programmed to make many instrumental and vocal sounds. The resulting compositions have a full orchestral sound. In order to make the music sound more human, he purposefully programs slight deviations from the exact tempo.

Guitron is known for his innovative, enthusiastic creativity, pushing the boundaries of choreography and musical composition, and for his kindness and dedication to the board, staff, dancers and community members of Polaris Dance Theatre.


Acknowledgements and Awards

  • Oregon Arts Commission 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship Award
  • Drammy (best Choreography 08)
  • PAMTA (Best Choreography for a Musical 08”)
  • “Best Music Video” VH-1/MTV ’92 – for choreography
  • Jefferson High school Dance Program Full Scholarship
  • “Best Choreography” Port Townsend Dance Competition
  • University of San Francisco Dance Scholarship
  • Oregon Ballet Theatre Full Scholarship
  • Pacific Ballet Theatre Full Scholarship
  • University of Oklahoma Scholarship
  • PSU Dance Scholarship

Jewelry Design

Robert has also had a passion for jewelry design and gem collecting since his youth. During down time as a dancer and instructor, Robert spent time engrossed in experimenting with metalwork and eventually became self-taught as a jeweler. In 1994 he started RAG Design Studio, a business specializing in handcrafted one of a kind jewelry. Most of his work features high karat gold, platinum, palladium or sterling silver with luscious colored, high quality gemstones. Similar to choreographing a dance, Robert’s attention lies in the line and movement of each piece often incorporating the use of mixed metals as well as interesting textures through the use of reticualtion, engraving or chemical etching. Robert’s pieces have been featured in several galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest, California, and New Mexico.

In the early years of Robert’s dance career, he initially 
found himself between dance gigs on the 
road and challenged to keep himself creatively 
inspired. Intrigued by Asian art and culture he 
grew interested in the art of Bonsai. Hundreds 
of hours of research and hands on experimentation led him to his self-owned and operated business, Koyama Bonsai. He served as the president of the Portland Bonsai Society for the 6 years and frequently holds workshops in his greenhouse on the art of bonsai. His trees have been displayed at the Portland Art Museum as well as at several bonsai conventions throughout the United States. In 2003 he was nominated as one of the top 10 new artists in the nation for the art of Bonsai.

Personal Life

Robert Guitron and his partner of 24 years, Sara Anderson, reside in Portland along with their 17 year old daughter Xena and foster son, Jacob.  Robert enjoys traveling, finding new coffee shops, tasting a new tequila, enjoying time with his immediate family as well throwing frequent gatherings in his home with his close friends.  And, it is not unusual to find Robert out on the river before sunrise fishing for salmon.


Getting to Know the Polaris Dance Company Members – Part 2

07 October 2015 | 0 Comments

Blake & Melanie

Hi everyone, Intern, Minako here again! Today’s spotlight will be on the talented dancers, Melanie Verna and Blake Seidel.

Minako: When did you start dancing?

Blake: I only started dancing 5 years ago in college, I was 20.

Melanie: I’ve been dancing since I was 5 1/2. It’s been a long time.

Minako: Blake, since you’ve been dancing a short time, how do you improve yourself?

Blake: I work really hard and spend a lot of time in the studio. Working on things outside of the rehearsal process is important. I feel like I can make up by working twice as hard everyone else.

Minako: Do you think Polaris gives you more artistic freedom than other companies you’ve worked with?

Melanie: Yes, I would add that there’s also an aspect of cooperation that I didn’t have before. There’s a lot of communication between the dancers and the directors; directors have a lot of input, but the dancers have freedom to express themselves too. In the past, I didn’t have the freedom to express my own ideas to my fellow comrades as easily as I do here. The dancers have a lot of artistic license, which is super nice.

Blake: In the past, I danced for a younger contemporary ballet company, which wasn’t very strict. The directors were younger, and it was also very collaborative in the communication sense.

Minako: What is the most difficult part of dancing?

Blake: I would say the hardest thing about being a dancer is trying to make it. It’s finding a balance between what you feel satisfied with. We all have to be able to pay the bills, and I try to find a place where I can both dance and feel fulfilled. There are so many things that that go into it.

Melanie: I definitely feel the same way. I have the same struggles. In addition to having three jobs I try to stay in good shape and try not to be too exhausted while making a living. I always have to come back to dance to feel fulfilled. It’s a really tough balance.

Minako: Compared to the 9 to 5 lifestyle, do you think this career is very different?

Blake: Yes, because any other person can just go to work, get paid, come home, then they have the option to do a lot of other things. They have set hours, they have set assignments. We take everything home with us. We have to learn and remember all the phrases for the next day. Sometimes I work another job, so on top of rehearsals, with an additional set of hours, I end up working 14 – 15 hour days.

Melanie: Yes, basically we have many different things going on in order to be able to support our art, which if it means enough to you, is worth it. But It is difficult.

Minako: What is your goal in dancing?

Melanie: Because I worked full-time as a dancer and supplemented my income with teaching, it’s become all-consuming. I think at this point my goal is to dance for myself, since for a long time I was trying to do what everybody else was: get the training, get the contract out of high school, move to New York and be a ballet dancer. It was always for my career path, or for my director, to please people, or network with the right donors so we could get funding. At this point, because of the way the company is structured right now, and how you kind of have to support yourself, I want to do it for me. Not for anyone else. People respond really well to it here too.

Minako’s Toughts: Melanie and Blake come from different backgrounds, but they do really well dancing collaboratively at Polaris. I think the open-minded approach that Polaris takes works well for the dancers. They are also able to express different views and opinions, and it works well for them. I really enjoyed interviewing Melanie and Blake. Thank you both!

Next I’ll be interviewing Polaris Dance Company Member, Brynn. See you soon!


Open Rehearsal: 2016 Season Sneak Peek

05 October 2015 | 0 Comments

X-Posed Rehearsal_Photo by Mary Overman 4


When: Friday, October 16th from 10:30am – Noon

Where: Portland Festival Ballet, 10058 SW Arctic Dr, Beaverton, OR

Join us in the studio for an up close and personal sneak peek at the Polaris Company at work. Artistic Director, Robert Guitron and the dancers of Polaris are currently creating a full evening of new work that will premiered in January 2016. We want to give you the first glance!

Enjoy a Friday morning “cup of joe” with us at our temporary rehearsal location: 10058 SW Arctic Dr, Beaverton, OR 97005 (Portland Festival Ballet) on October 16th between 10:30am – Noon.

Please RSVP to Sara Anderson at by Monday, October 12th.

Thank you and we hope to see you there!


Get to Know the Polaris Dance Company Members

23 September 2015 | 0 Comments

Hi everyone, Intern, Minako here! I want to show you my first interview with Polaris’ talented dancers, M’Liss Quinnly and Kieraqmil Brinkley.

Kiera & MLiss

Minako: When did you start dancing?

M’Liss: When I was 2 years old. My mom and dad were both dancers. I was always in studio, and I took baby ballet class. And I kept going.

Kiera: I think I was same age as M’Liss. I used dance as my expression instead of speaking.

Minako: What is the most difficult part of dancing?

M’Liss: A lot of it is physically hard. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Even if you don’t  physically feel good, you work really hard. There’a a mental self that you have to push through. There’s a lot of head stuff, self-motivation.

Minako: I see, so it depends on the day, your emotions often change?

M’Liss: Yes. Defenitely. If you aren’t feeling well, you just try to push through. Just do it.

Kiera: I agree with M’Liss. I think it’s a self esteem thing.  Even though I don’t think I can do it physically, I’m still trying to.

M’Liss: When you leave frustrated you have to make yourself go back in the next day. And you try again.

Minako: I think it’s hard to repeat the same thing on a daily basis. What do you think?

M’Liss: It depends how many days we’re repeating things. If you do the same thing for a week, by the end of the week you will be kind of sick of it. I like three days of repetition, because by that point, I mentally know the material. The third day I feel kind of I can play with it.

Kiera: I think that’s why I like Polaris so much. It’s actually not the same thing every single day. We learn different things from different teachers, and work different parts of the body. Whole pieces are sometimes never the same. If we’re constantly running over the same pieces, it kills me.

Minako: What is the most important part of dance for you?

M’Liss: Probably the most important thing is the same as the most difficult thing: overcoming your own mental limitations. If you can push yourself, you can also learn in other areas of your life.

Kiera: I also think it’s the physicality of being a dancer. You have to know your limits. Knowing my pace is one of the hardest things.

Minako: Interesting. When you know your limits, how do you manage them?

Kiera: It’s a lot of time in the studio, but it’s also a lot of time outside the studio, because you’re not just learning for the art of dance. Physical and mental limitation is something that you have to work through over time. It’s a continuation.

M’Liss: Again, the hardest thing is also the most rewarding, especially outside of the studio.

Minako: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me!

Minako’s Thoughts: I thought M’Liss and Kiera’s dynamic dance approach is coming from their belief in themselves. I talked to them for the first time, but I was very relaxed because they were so sweet! I had a good time. Thank you M’Liss and Kiera!


Now Accepting Applications for Groovin’ Greenhouse Guest Artists

23 September 2015 | 0 Comments


Application: Application.doc or Application.pdf

Click here for guest artist FAQ.

Returning for the 6th year, Polaris Dance Theatre’s Groovin’ Greenhouse will host an array of emerging and established Portland-area dance companies throughout the running of the Fertile Ground Festival of New Work, January 21 – 31, 2016. Last year’s production was a huge success, with 4 of the 6 performances selling out! Groovin’ Greenhouse seeks to provide accessibility for audiences to explore the diverse and vibrant range of dance being created right here in Portland! This production will return with even more cutting-edge work from Artistic Director, Robert Guitron and guest choreographers!

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