// Mission //
Velocity advances contemporary dance and movement-based art by fostering the creative explorations of artists and audiences through an invested commitment to education, creation, performance, inquiry, community participation, and inter/national exchange.
Velocity is Seattle’s premier art center dedicated to contemporary dance and performance. Every day we:
Support and advance artists and emerging ideas through commissioning, presenting, residencies, creative exchange; and access to space, funding, scholarships, employment and touring opportunities.
Provide quality movement education to dancers beginner through professional, in a broad range of movement styles.
Produce programs that introduce audiences to a wide spectrum of contemporary dance practices and aesthetics and bring together regional talent and world-class innovators.
Provide outreach and humanities programs that engage minds and inspire participation, while promoting cross-disciplinary dialogue and meaningful links between artists and the community.
Advocate for dance as an essential component to the cultural vitality of the country.
To be a national leader as an artist-driven, community-centered dance incubator where Velocity’s partnerships of education, artist support, advocacy and performance foster dance literacy and the artistic vitality of our community. Velocity envisions a city where contemporary dance is a regular part of civic and cultural dialogue, and a nation where dance artists are valued for their singular contribution to culture and society.
The following core values guide everything we do at Velocity.
We are responsive to the artistic, social, and economic landscape of the moment and current developments in the field of dance.
We are a forward-thinking laboratory. We believe in creating frameworks where new ideas can emerge and develop. We seek-out and foster artistic and organizational initiatives on the cutting edge of change. We question assumptions to find new pathways to create public value.
We believe an environment that encourages rigorous training and investigation inspires individuals to reach their maximum potential and enriches the cultural landscape of our country. We believe in presenting compelling ideas that challenge and inspire. We aim to better our art form by reaching beyond expectations.
We welcome and celebrate our students, artists, audiences and supporters. We embrace our role as an entry point to dance and a portal to the Seattle dance community. We believe democracy in action means that anyone with the desire to dance has the opportunity to fulfill that desire. We embrace differences of sexual orientation, gender identification, physical ability, age, ethnicity and socio-economic status.
We value cross-disciplinary dialogue and a diversity of perspectives. We engage a multiplicity of contemporary movement practices, creative voices and aesthetics from the Northwest and beyond. We celebrate how dance, in the broadest sense, infiltrates multiple worlds; and support artists’ multi-faceted capacities.
We believe in activating pathways to participation for artists and audiences. We devise programs that create meaningful links between artists and communities. We provide platforms for thoughtful discourse on dance and choreographic culture. We embrace our role as a point of interface between local dance lovers and the global dance ecology.
We believe the identification and development of creative potential are crucial leadership roles of national importance. On the local, state and national level we advocate for the needs of contemporary dance artists, encourage increased appreciation for the value of dance in culture and society; and foster informed, committed dance supporters.
We believe in providing resources that help make Seattle a viable place for artists to develop sustainable, prosperous careers. We combine ambitious artistic and financial goals with a pragmatic approach to good business practices and organizational integrity. We are fiercely committed to our mandate to be on the leading edge in supporting new generations of dance artists while fostering the continued growth of dance in our region.
Since May 1996, Velocity has advanced contemporary dance and movement-based art in the PNW. With classes every day, performances almost every week and twelve ongoing artist development programs, Velocity embodies the cornerstone of Seattle’s dance ecosystem and contributes significantly to the national and international field of dance. Home to dozens of independent choreographers, it is renowned for producing innovative, cutting-edge work. Since its inception, Velocity has featured performances and workshops by art stars Anouk van Dijk, Miguel Gutierrez, Tere O’Conner, Victoria Marks, Reggie Watts, Pat Graney, Deborah Hay, Faye Driscoll, 33 Fainting Spells, Amy O’Neal, KT Niehoff, Zoe Scofield /Juniper Shuey, Mark Haim, Wade Madsen and many more.
In 1996, KT Niehoff and Michele Miller opened Velocity Dance Center with the intention to provide the training and rehearsal space necessary for the continued growth of dance in the Puget Sound region. Since its inception, Velocity has grown alongside the Seattle dance community. In 2006, Velocity’s founders decided to move on to other artistic and personal endeavors, and the Board of Directors hired Kara O’Toole to act as Velocity’s Executive Director. Under the direction of Ms. O’Toole, Velocity weathered the challenge of losing its 13-year home when a developer bought the Odd Fellows building and tripled Velocity’s rent, making it impossible for the organization to remain in this space long-term. While continuing to serve the Seattle dance community without interruption, Velocity found and secured a new home at 1621 12th Avenue (former Capitol Hill Arts Center) and launched a Capital Campaign to raise the funds necessary to relocate to and renovate the new facility.
On March 27, 2010, Velocity triumphantly moved into its beautiful long-term Capitol Hill home and reinstated all its programs. Unlike Velocity’s old venue, the new facility is a cohesive space in which the offices, theater, and studios are linked together. With Velocity’s relocation, a vital art space was safeguarded that will now continue to serve dance artists and audiences for many years to come. As a testament to its service to the community, Velocity was recognized by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn with a Mayor’s Arts Award in September 2010.
After serving as Velocity’s Executive Director for five years, Kara O’Toole stepped down as the head of the organization in December 2010. Shannon Stewart, Velocity’s Development Director, served as Interim Executive Director until May 2011, when Tonya Lockyer became the new visionary leader of the organization.