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December 22, 2005


s dance has come full circle

Tidings Correspondent

A wave o&


sea, that you might ever do

Nothing but that.&

- William Shakespeare, The Winter&

s Tale

Local dancer, choreographer and teacher Suzanne Seiber was enrolled in her first dance class at age 5 because her mother noticed that she &

was always dancing&

and wanted to support her daughter&

s passion.


I have a freedom of expression in dance that I don&

t have with words. And dance is an immediate, joyful, experience,&

says Seiber.

She continued throughout her childhood taking dance classes with Colleen Hope who ran who her studio at the YWCA, which was located in the same spot where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival&

s Angus Bowmer theatre now stands and Seiber has since performed. Seiber&

s work as a performer and choreographer with the festival began when at age 16 she was cast as fairy in the festival&

s production of &

A Midsummer Night&

s Dream.&

As luck would have it, the production was running its first long season at the festival, from spring through fall.


It was an eye opening experience for me. I loved it,&

she recalls. &

Raye Birk, the director, was a huge inspiration. He treated everyone equally and respectfully. He created theatre games for us, incorporating the more experienced with the beginners ... and he shared his vision, rather than just telling us to where to go and what to do, he would explain the images he envisioned. He really opened it up to us.&

Paid with a scholarship for a term at Southern Oregon University (in 1971 Southern Oregon College), Seiber began her freshman year at the college while a senior in high school. After high school graduation, she transferred to the University of Oregon where she studied dance. She continued with the festival, dancing for the Green Show during summer breaks.

In 1976, she left college to study dance in Los Angeles and work with the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival with which she joined on the school tours, performing and teaching workshops in schools, from Beverly Hills to Watts. After returning to Ashland to teach dance she realized that a master&

s degree would help further her career, so she went back to college, earning a master&

s in dance from the University of Oregon.

Upon returning to Ashland, she taught dance with Jim Giancarlo, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre&

s artistic director. She&

s taught beginning adult ballet and jazz dance at SOU since 1991.

Seiber may be most known locally for her work over the years with Oregon Cabaret Theatre where she&

s performed in many productions: &

They Came from Way out There,&


Pump Boys Dinettes,&



and &

Tis The Season,&

to name a few. She&

s also choreographed for the Cabaret as well as various venues, including OSF. Her performances at OSF include, most recently, &

Ma Rainey&

s Black Bottom,&


The Belle&

s Stratagem&

and &


s Labor Lost.&


s also choreographed for several productions at Ashland High School, including &

Guys and Dolls,&

which opens in March.

Seiber received a Rex Rabold award, an honor awarded each year to a performer who has given back to a Northwest community at a significant level, after leaving and then returning.

Asked what she loves about Ashland, she replies, &

Being able to look at the mountains, have clean air and water, and the feeling of so many good people in the community.&

Along with college dance classes, she also teaches extension classes at SOU, as well as tap and ballroom dancing at the Ashland Community. The tap class for those 12 and over, and to date, her oldest student has been 86.

Tap is a great way for people who are musically inclined to enhance their sense of rhythm, points out Seiber. Tap also is a good way for kids to get centered, to ground themselves when they are &

in their heads too much,&

she says, recalling something she learned while teaching at Ashland&

s Waldforf school. &

And it&

s great for posture too.&

Ballroom dancing classes are taught upon request. Her favorite request came from a man who told her he had &

avoided dancing for 27 years,&

but that now his daughter was getting married and he needed to dance the first dance with her. His wife, says Seiber, who hadn&

t danced in nearly 30 years also enjoyed the benefits of his venture.

Suzanne Seiber can be reached at 482-6080.