Guest Stager: Shelley Washington

Joining us this week is Shelley Washington, here to stage In the Upper Room for Ballet San Jose’s MasterPieces program. Performed last season, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room enjoyed standing ovations and glowing critical acclaim. Here’s what Rita Felciano of the San Jose Mercury News had to say of the performance:

In the Upper Room in an applause machine. One moment you have four women stalking and whirling in toe shoes, the next a leisurely group jogs backwards in slippers. The choreography’s demands on speed and precision partnering kept dancers on their toes and audiences at the edge of their seats. It was quite a ride.

We are again looking forward to seeing this masterpiece performed for the 2014/2015 Season and are so lucky to have the talented Ms. Washington here to set the stage. Read below to learn more about Washington’s background and many achievements, and don’t miss Ballet San Jose’s performance of In the Upper Room, on stage at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts February 20-22, 2015.


Shelley Washington

Shelley Washington

Shelley Washington studied with Twyla Tharp at Wolftrap Academy, American University, prior to being invited to join Twyla Tharp Dance Company in 1975. She had previously danced as a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Ms. Washington furthered her training at the Juilliard School. In 1977 she performed in the film “Hair” and in 1985 in “singing in the Rain” on Broadway and served as Dance Captain for that Production. In 1987 she was honored with a Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance.

From 1988 to 1992 Ms. Washington joined the American Ballet Theater in Association with Twyla Tharp as a Soloist and Rehearsal Director. In 1993 she was the Rehearsal Director for Twyla Tharp’s “Cutting Up” tour starring Ms. Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp and Dancers City Center Season in New York and Tharp Dances’ International Tour. Ms. Washington continues to work with Ms. Tharp as a Repetiteur, Setting, Staging and Directing Ballets for various companies including American Ballet Theater, The Boston Ballet Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, The Australian Ballet, The Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ballet Rambert, The Royal Ballet, The Dutch National, The Zurich Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Kansas City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Ballet San Jose, The Royal Danish and the Royal Swedish Ballet.

In addition, Ms. Washington spent the summer of 1999 working with Trevor Nunn’s Company “The Royal National Theater” as a Movement Director and Choreographer for the play “A Darker Face of the Earth” which opened August 5th at the Cottlesloe Theater in London, England.

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