Austin Sexton co-directs RDC and is also a company member of 3rd Shift Dance. She has performed at Velocity Dance Center, as part of the Arts Crush Festival, and most recently, at Seattle Art Museum's "ReMixed." Austin is on faculty at Spectrum Dance Theater and, with Jasmine Morgan, leads RDC's community outreach program teaching dance in public schools. The daughter of a Spectrum co-founder, Austin has been instrumental in bringing vintage jazz into RDC’s repertory, and is overjoyed to present work by another Spectrum co-founder, SuZanne Duckworth, in “Beginnings.”
Get your tickets to "Beginnings" now! [Click here].
Q. Tell me about what you're performing in Beginnings?
A. I am performing in four pieces this year, all of which I am very excited for! I’ll be dancing in my own piece, "The First”, Mary Kay’s “Surviving the Undertow” and SuzAnne’s “Momento" (in the same part that my mother danced back in 1985!) I am also dancing a solo by Gabrielle Nomura, to Janis Joplin’s rendition of “Summertime”. This is a big deal for me because it's the first time I’ve danced a solo as an adult; I’m pumped to able to explore my own personal range of emotion.
Q. Tell me more about your work "The First."
A. My piece explores the idea of the first time you have really loved someone (in any way). It's about companionship, friendship, relationships, love, passion etc. It’s about having someone(s) in your life who you can truly depend on. For example, my parents were the first people I learned to love; Gabrielle was the first friend in high school I knew I could love and trust; my best friend Michelle took on the role of my sister when I lost my brother; or meeting my nephew (Michelle’s son) for the first time, and knowing that that child saved me. This piece is for all of them, really … these people have taught me so much. They've helped me experience things I never would have, had I not known them.
Q. What's going to be the biggest challenge for you in the show?
A. Dancing the role that my mother danced in “Momento.” I have always looked up to her as a dancer; she is the person who has always inspired me, so I am really excited (and nervous!) to be able to bring her part to life and make it my own.
Q. Tell me more about RDC's relationship with 3rd Shift Dance and Spectrum Dance Theater.
A. I was basically born at the Spectrum school (my mom was dancing in the company when she was pregnant with me). When I was little, my mom and Dale Merill (former Spectrum Artistic Director) used to just hand me off to one another while the other one went in to teach class. When I was about 3 or 4, I started taking ballet from Dale.
I was a Spectrum student until age 15, returned there when I was 17 (after studying at Dance Fremont!), and I'm now an instructor there. I will always consider it a home away from home.
It was through Spectrum that I met Xaviera Vandermay. Xav danced professionally for Spectrum, and is now Artistic Director of 3rd Shift Dance. She’s older than me, so we never danced together there, but I remember watching her back in the early 2000s and loving the way she moved. It wasn't until about a year ago, that she randomly came into the restaurant I worked at that we reconnected and I recruited her to choreograph for RDC’s premiere show. I loved the piece she did on us so much, I auditioned for 3SD and have been dancing with her ever since! It’s great to have her as a friend and ally, because she creates a lot of amazing performance opportunities and is always excited to collaborate with us and support our shows by bringing in her fierce spirit and choreography.
Q. How has Relay Dance Collective grown and changed since we last spoke?
A. It's grown so much! We are really taking ownership of our vision and doing everything in our power to achieve our goals. We have recently started the beginning phases of our community outreach program to create dance opportunities for children who wouldn't otherwise have the chance to dance. I am really excited for this; I think that it’s extremely important for children to have the opportunity to explore what the performing arts mean to them. Dancing can build self-confidence, teach teamwork, ignite children's imaginations and so much more.
Q. Why should people come see Beginnings?
A. For one, there will be so many talented and amazing dancers, actors and musicians -- the performance showcases our diverse backgrounds and stories; it's a privilege to be able to share that.