Rain Ross

Rain Ross, 2004 Amy Award winner

Dancer/choreographer Rain Ross has been selected as the 2004 Amy Award winner. When told of the award, she said that she was really quite excited and proud.

“I felt that the work I’ve done for the past few years has really shown that I am an emerging artist and working toward developing my art. For me this award represents a very important and special recognition of my work,” she explained.

Ross grew up in a house filled with art and artists. She credits her parents—her father is Island sculptor-woodworker Cecil Ross, with encouraging her to pursue her own vision and also to appreciate other creative forms.

“It is extremely important for me to open myself up to the methodologies of other artists,” she said. “I look to other artists for the chance to learn and the chance to teach and I recognize that these collaborations will allow me to mature as an artist and strengthen the expression of my own voice.”

After graduating from Bainbridge High School in 1995, Ross studied ballet at Bainbridge Dance Center and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, before becoming an apprentice of the Playhouse Dance Company in Durban, South Africa. Ross found that the traditional distribution of power in the classical ballet company, with dancers something like pawns in the hands of the artistic director, didn’t allow her to be fully creative.

Upon her return to the States, Ross enrolled at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she began to develop a choreography that encouraged a more collaborative process between dancer and director. A grant from Mt. Holyoke College helped underwrite Time Alone, a solo piece Ross choreographed and performed at Seattle’s Velocity MainSpace Theater in 2001. After finishing her degree at Mt. Holyoke, Ross worked in New York City and Denver before returning to Bainbridge to carve out a niche as a creator and performer.

Although she began as a dancer, Ross says that her interest in choreography—creating movement for other dancers, has deepened, offering an avenue to the patterns of movement that she sees in her environment.

“In choreography, my true voice can be expressed,” she said. “I have the chance to decide the movement that most explains the images I wish to convey.”

Much of her work focuses on the dance troupe she founded three years ago, Lehua Dance Theater, named for the bloom of a Hawaiian tree. Lehua’s nine dancers and two students presented Beauty and Martyrdom (and other stories) at Bainbridge Performing Arts last February featuring Ross’ original choreography. In addition, the troupe has performed Beyond Blue at Seattle’s Velocity MainSpace Theater.

She has also taught at Bainbridge Dance Center and choreographed recent Bainbridge Performing Arts productions that include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Fantastiks.

Ross will invest a portion of her $3,000 award, and use the balance for a visit to Paris that will expose her to new influences that may enrich her work. Ross recognizes that in order to continue to grow and develop, she has to keep learning and looking to other art forms for stimulation. When she returns from Paris, Ross says, she will be immersed, for a time, in obtaining non-profit status for her Lehua Dance Theater.

“I am an artist because it is the only path I can travel,” she said. “Everything I see and the interpretations I have all become translated into art. In return for providing me with these experiences, I give back to my community by choreographing and presenting my work.”

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