This article was published on February 24, 2015 on Dance Wire’s “Featured Artists and Organizations”. The full article can be found here.
Ask Robert Guitron, Director of Polaris Dance Theatre, what is dance and who should dance and he’ll let out a big sigh indicating the weight and depth of the response, then hardly missing a beat, out comes his answer: “Dance is a rudimentary necessity of humanity. It transcends language, culture, demographics, and it’s the oldest form of expression and communication.” And, he emphasizes, “Everyone should dance, everyone should express themselves.” Robert laments that we’ve put stigmas and judgements on ourselves and others about who is and what is a dancer. But to be a professional artist is completely different than enjoying the art form itself. Like cooking, not everyone is a chef; but learning how to cook and learning what to do with food is part of sustaining yourself and your family and helping you succeed. Robert loves to see people on the street rocking out to their headphones or in the car jamming out. “If we could find more ways of just doing that, society would be healthier.” Movement for movements sake.
These ideals permeate everything Polaris is and does. Polaris consists of a professional performing company, a pre-professional training company and a school. One of their core values is that they don’t shut anyone out. They’ve often taken in people who other studios have turned away. Robert gives the example of a legally blind girl who came to the studio after being turned away from studios that saw her as a liability. Polaris also has a quad amputee in their main company who dances gorgeously, but likely wouldn’t have been given a chance other places. But again, Robert stressed that dance isn’t an elitist activity; it’s fundamental to all humans.
Polaris is dedicated to not only allowing everyone to have the opportunity to explore movement, but also to supporting all styles of movement. Collaboration is very important, which is why each year Polaris hosts Groovin Greenhouse, the dance portion of the annual Fertile Ground Festival that showcases new works by both emerging and established artists. They also created the Galaxy Festival, a free public event set in Director’s Park that celebrates all different styles of movement.
“Art is problem solving,” Robert says. “It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s about looking at someone else’s voice.” At Polaris, all voices are heard.
Our Taiwanese intern, Vivian, joined us for the Groovin’ Greenhouse and Winter Student Performances in January. This is a reflection of her thoughts after watching rehearsal and participating in the administrative preparations for the first performances of 2015:
First of all, I’m lucky that I could help out and watch these performances. Still now, I remembered that I was surprised when I saw the students dancing and climbing aerial fabric. In my case, when I was their age, I did not try that, and I thought they must be brave to do that. Furthermore, on stage, they didn’t rush, they wanted to perform. The most important thing is that they were encouraged, which I think is key to helping youth continue to learn to dance.
Secondly, I realized that even though I am not a professional dancer, I could still dance when during my free time. I missed the feeling that I enjoy while dancing, which I found I had lost. I did not watch contemporary dance when I was in Taiwan, so it was my first experience with this. I really like this kind of dance. I don’t like the dance that requires one to just memorize steps, and everyone dances the same steps together.
I found the creativity and possibility of dance from watching Polaris, and I can bring that with me to Taiwan. All in all, I’m happy and thankful that I’m able to have this intern positions at Polaris Dance Theatre. Through these days, these experiences have broadened my horizons. During the Groovin’ Greenhouse performances I was inspired to dance, and I decided I will keep dancing after I go back to Taiwan.
The first week of Session to is almost over, but it’s not too late to enroll! Polaris offers a range of classes for youth ages 1+, teens, adults, and seniors, including parent/child classes, aerial, hip hop, contemporary, tap, ballet, acro, and pointe for people of all ages and abilities.
Not sure if a class is right for you? Drop-ins are welcome! Swing by and see if a class is a good fit, and if you love it (which we think you will), you can enroll with your drop-in payment going towards enrollment fees!