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.
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
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.
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.