Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation—How It Started

1994 SFADI PhotoThe first Seattle Festival of Alternative Dance and Improvisation (SFADI), which later became the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI), was a three-day venture in August 1994. Although, the exact origin of the idea is somewhat muddled (depending on whom you ask), it seems to have involved a suggestion from Karen Nelson, who was teaching in Vancouver, BC, with a group of other contact improvisation teachers, to Sheri Cohen and Heidi Drucker.

At the same time, Robert Harrison, who was running the Seattle contact improvisation jam, was looking for a way to stimulate the local contact improv community. Robert and Heidi talked about potentially bringing some of the teachers who were in Vancouver to Seattle. Robert then called Carol Wiley and asked if she wanted to meet about putting together a dance festival.

That first meeting in early July 1994 consisted of Robert, Carol, and Heidi. They decided to put together a three-day festival with some of the teachers from Vancouver and a few local teachers. They wanted another person to help and invited Julie Freyberg to join them.

The four organizers managed to put together a three-day festival in only six weeks, with Robert fronting money for rent, publicity, and other expenses, not knowing if he would get it back. They also asked Stephanie Skura’s non-profit dance organization, Cranky Destroyers, to provide an administrative umbrella.


Teachers agreed to teach, not knowing how much they might be paid. And with fewer than ten people registered just days before the festival, the organizers didn’t know what to expect. But people did show up, Robert got back his money, the organizers paid the teachers and themselves a modest $74.06 each, and they even kept $210 to jump start the next year’s festival.

Were you at the first SFADI? Feel free to post any memories in the comments!

The First SFADI Schedule

 1994 Schedule Seattle Festival of Alternative Dance and Improvisation

No comments: