M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

“When we invite people to join the theater throughout the performing arts, we’re inspiring people to keep creating.” –Ignacio Barron Viela, Billings Symphony, “Why the Performing Arts?” 

From the magic of performing onstage to the joy of applauding from the audience, participating in live performances holds indescribable value for our communities. It brings people together and sparks creativity. It offers opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. It also drives significant benefit for neighboring restaurants and shops, contributing to a thriving local economy. For the future of flourishing communities, creating opportunities for the next generation to perform is critical. Recently, we have been pleased to pour into three organizations offering dance education across the Pacific Northwest, building up the next generations of dancers and creating a more beautiful future for our region. 

In Fairbanks, Alaska, North Star Ballet offers classical dance training to Interior Alaska, where quality arts education is often hard to access. Many Alaskan students receive no arts education, and performing and visual arts teachers make up less than 2% of the state’s teaching force. This makes the contributions of North Star Ballet all the more critical. From a cornerstone “Nutcracker” performance in which every child who auditions gets a role, to shorter repertory pieces and other seasonal performances, North Star Ballet is a cultural staple in Fairbanks. 

Meanwhile in Eugene, Oregon, #instaballet is offering interactive, first-of-its-kind dance opportunities that engage audiences in real-time choreography. This unique model includes a facilitator and dancer who dialogue with the audience on a timely theme, then guide them in the choreographic process inspired by their ideas. Performances take place across the city and in schools, reimagining how ballet is presented and experienced. 

Young adult and child with colorful scarves inside a dance studio

Pacific Ballroom Dance in Auburn, Washington is one of the nations’ top youth ballroom dance organizations. Welcoming dancers of all ages, but primarily serving students, this nonprofit teaches excellence on the dance floor while sharing each dance’s history and building character through collaboration and communication. Participants perform in venues across Western Washington, bringing the beauty of ballroom dance to dozens of communities each year. 

Black and white photo of two ballroom dancers performing a dip
Pacific Ballroom Dance

These three nonprofits and many like them are creating vital opportunities for growth, collaboration, creativity, and community-building across the Pacific Northwest. We applaud them for the ways they are training the next generation of dancers and engaging new communities in the performing arts, for the benefit of all.  

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