Artist Spotlight: Melanie Kirk-Stauffer

Artistic Director—Dance Theatre Northwest

Even as a child Melanie Kirk-Stauffer loved dance, music, the theatre, musicals and movies. Encouragement came from every direction. Her teachers commented on her creative, artistic and scholarly abilities from an early age.

It was no surprise when Melanie created and founded Dance Theatre Northwest, a regional performing dance company. Now an award winning choreographer, Melanie has been teaching dance and organizing performance groups in the Puget Sound area for 14 years. As she has since the inception, Melanie stages, produces and directs new ballets to original scores.

Melanie has also produced a pre-performance lecture, given in the theatre prior to performances that provides dance education while inspiring audiences to the significance of art in our communities. She represents a vital voice for performing arts and has increased public support and appreciation of dance as an art form.

What inspires you?

My first love in dance will always be ballet. I am committed to helping preserve the legacy of classical ballet and to leading a life of service through the development of a highly skilled dance performance company that can build a diverse repertoire of dance choreography to be performed and is accessible to all members of our community.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

As an artist, I am probably most proud of being the kind of director that inspires passion and the love of dance in others. My inspiration comes from deep inner places that respond to beauty, color, nature, music, line and grace. I love teaching and the choreographic and creative opportunities that directing a ballet based company affords.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Most people who see our performances do not realize that I have had a hand in the creation or design of most of the costumes, sets, promotional and printed materials—all part of the vision for each show. My greatest challenge is time management because I love doing so may things. Every day seems like a series of choices that have to be made.

Who do you think most deserves the spotlight?

I think everyone deserves the spotlight and is special. If they want to show up and do the work it takes to be in it then so be it.

Leah Grout