// 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.
// Vision //
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.
// History //
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.