Ballet Northwest Celebrates 50 Years of Dance

Ballet Northwest is celebrating an impressive milestone — 50 years of bringing ballet and the art of dance to Olympia and the greater Thurston County region. In celebration, Ballet Northwest presents the 50th anniversary gala on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. The program includes professional dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and National Ballet of Cuba. During the gala, Ballet Northwest alums will share their experiences and memories of dancing with the company, and historical ballet videos will be shown. 

“Ballet Northwest’s 50th Anniversary Gala will honor the organization’s history and alumni, as well as build excitement for its future by raising funds for scholarships and new costumes,” says Ken Johnson, co-artistic director of Ballet Northwest.

“At the gala – and throughout 2020 – Ballet Northwest will celebrate its legacy,” says Paula R. Lowe, gala coordinator. “Ballet Northwest has impacted thousands of people in the past 50 years, from the dancers, cast, crew, parents, and volunteers, to the audiences. We are inviting former Ballet Northwest dancers to celebrate with us at the gala, connect with their dance community, and support up-and-coming dancers, so they, too, will learn and grow from dance.”

Former artistic director Bernard “Bud” Johansen and his wife, Mary Johansen, will be honorary guests at the gala, along with Sam and Margie Reed. Sam was the president of the Ballet Northwest board of directors in the 1970s when the board hired Bud Johansen. Margie Reed was the first professionally-trained ballet dancer who danced with Ballet Northwest, continuing to work with them for many years.

The gala will also feature professional dancers from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, and National Ballet of Cuba. The event will highlight memorabilia displays and video interview clips from throughout BNW’s 50 years, and raise funds for BNW’s costume and scholarship funds. The evening will culminate with desserts and dancing in the black box. A limited number of VIP tickets are available, which include a pre-show reception in the black box with dinner appetizers and drinks.

Since 1970, Ballet Northwest has served as a community-based group dedicated to promoting, teaching, and preserving the art of dance in Southwest Washington. BNW is the sole nonprofit ballet company in Thurston County and the oldest in Washington state, and its 50-year anniversary will certainly be one to celebrate. For more information on the gala, visit the Washington Center website.