A Web of Experience


In a recent 14-day whirlwind filled with little sleep and lots of caffeine, I travelled with photographer Gregory Bartning from Los Angeles up the coast to Seattle, interviewing 25 dancers and hosting five public events to finish and promote our Dancing Over 50 Project, a series of interviews and photographs with over 50 dancers over age 50 along the West Coast. This project has been in the works for over two years, and by next summer we hope to turn this puppy into a signed, sealed and delivered book!

The previously finished interviews are available in full here, but I want to share a sneak peek of some words of wisdom collected on our recent journey. Over the next couple weeks I will be sharing a favorite quote and photo from each of the newest interviewees. In other words, stay tuned!

part2 recap

Laura Elaine Ellis

On legacy:

“The thing has to come before the person. I don’t know if I personally have a legacy. What I have is what’s come before me and what I’ve been able to create with the synergy around me. I see myself in a web of experiences. I feel the empowerment of standing on shoulders.”

LAURA_ELAINE_ELLIS cropped square

Nancy Evans Doede

On growing with age:

“No matter how good you are, you’re only ever an advanced beginner. There’s always room. What you thought you knew before, you learn again and again. If you’re committed to something, you do get better, but the question is: what does the world call better? My leg won’t get higher anymore, but my ability to express gets deeper.”

Nancy Evans cropped square

Donald Hewitt

On advice:

“Just like Diaghilev took Nijinsky to museums and galleries, I think it is important to experience as much art as you can. Whatever an artist thought, that essence is passed along to you, if you are open to it. This passing of knowledge and recognition makes you more energetic and sophisticated in your life and work.” 

Donalt Hewitt cropped square

Mira Katz

On continuing:

“What feels important for me to maintain a sense of integrity is to ask the question: can I be true to what I am actually capable of and feel good about doing it?”


Hae Kyung Lee

On inspiration:

“Honesty is everything. How can you fake dance? Everything that’s in you, you represent. You need internal strength to reflect your own truth. Dance cannot be faked.”

HAE_KYUNG_LEE cropped square

Laurel and Gene Leverton

On motivation:

Laurel: “It’s a passion and it overtakes you. This isn’t just an affair; I’m married to the dance and I have to build a relationship with it and incorporate it into my life.”

Gene: “We’re constantly working on technique. Steps are technique, but the idea is how to become more subtle in expressing the emotion. The technique is just an enabling set of skills, and it can even get down to the attitude rather than the steps.”


Pre-purchase your own copy of “Beauty is Experience: Dancing 50 and Beyond.” Expected delivery late 2016.

Dancing Over 50 - final- low res --page-001