Bits 'n' Pieces: VSAA grad makes name in dance

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photoEowyn Emerald Barrett

Éowyn Emerald Barrett has made a name for herself in the Northwest dance world as an edgy choreographer.

If you go

• What: Éowyn Emerald & Dancers.

• When: 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Oct. 5.

• Where: BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave., Portland.

• Tickets: $10 online or at the door.

• On the Web: Éowyn's website.

When she was an eighth-grade student at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, she won her first choreography competition, the Weiler Choreography Award, for her piece "Further Away." It was set to the music of Nine Inch Nails. Edgy? Yes, especially considering that many of the entries were serene, classical ballet numbers.

"I was shocked that I won," Barrett recalled. "My mother was probably thinking, 'Oh, gosh! Nine Inch Nails!'"

Now a professional choreographer, Barrett, 27, is unveiling three new pieces on Oct. 5 at the BodyVox Dance Center in Portland in an all-new program called Éowyn Emerald & Dancers.

Barrett choreographs under the name Éowyn Emerald. Her full name is Éowyn Emerald Elizabeth Barrett. She's named after Éowyn, a gutsy noblewoman in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels. The name fits.

She described her new works as "a three-part dance, with three different vibes, emotions or moods for each section."

The first piece, a duet with Josh Murry and Barrett called "The Games of Svee," Barrett described as "much more me with a lot of partnering. It's on the edgy side."

The second piece, "Scrumba," is being billed as "an athletic roller coaster of a dance." Barrett said, "It's kind of goofy, kind of funky, kind of weird. Very athletic."

The third piece has more of a romantic feel, more classical. The inspiration is the waltz music from the movie "A Single Man."

"It's probably less edgy of a piece than you'd expect from me," Barrett said. "It's pretty romantic, but I'm trying it out, seeing how it works. I'm trying new things."

Barrett graduated from VSAA in 2003 and received her bachelor of fine arts in contemporary dance with an emphasis in choreography from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Then she moved to Portland, was a founding member of BodyVox-2, the second BodyVox company comprised of younger dancers.

Barrett's awards and recognitions include a work selected to open the gala night at the National High School dance festival this year, two works selected and premiered at 12 Minutes Max in Seattle, three works selected and performed for Regional Dance America/Pacific Festivals, Regional Dance America Monticello Award, NFAA ARTS Award for Choreography and three first-place Weiler Choreography awards.

She also has created works for Columbia Dance Company, Fusion Dance Company, Dance West Company and the dance ensemble at VSAA.

When she isn't choreographing, Barrett teaches dance at the Russian Ballet Academy, and also teaches multiple levels of jazz at Columbia Dance in Vancouver and at BodyVox in Portland. Her students range in age from 5 to 17.

Her first full-length production in January sold out. "I'm hoping this one does the same," Barrett said of her Oct. 5 program.

— Susan Parrish