Saturday, May 5, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The joy of movement: Kaleidoscope marks 20 years of teaching vocabulary of dance

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The review in The New York Times said it best, Jan Corriston says.

It read, "(The) dancers revel in the sensation of moving different ways." One of those dancers was Corriston's son, Ryan, who now performs with the New York-based Tiffany Mills Company.

But it was Seattle's Kaleidoscope Dance Company, a modern-dance group for boys and girls, that gave Ryan his love of movement, his mother says.

"It gave the kids a real vocabulary in dance, and Ryan is doing a lot of teaching now of young children and he uses all the same vocabulary," said Corriston.

Now 26 and a professional, Ryan Corriston says the lessons he learned in his six years at Kaleidoscope keep coming back.

Kaleidoscope Dance Company 20th-Anniversary Concert

7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. next Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. May 13; Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle; $10 adults, $5 children and seniors (206-363-7281 or

"I'm realizing more and more how unique my early training in dance was and how much it affected who I am now," Corriston said. "I took so much of it for granted. ... (Kaleidoscope) challenged me to not just move for the sake of moving, but to have an inspiration, a desire, a passion, and then to share that with others."

Concert to mark anniversary

Next week, Corriston will be one of several dozen former members of the Kaleidoscope family - including his older sister, Erin - to return to Seattle for the dance company's 20th-anniversary concert. He'll perform a solo he choreographed called "A New Piece." Four performances are scheduled Friday through May 13 at the Broadway Performance Hall in Seattle.

A highlight of the concert, which will include about a dozen favorite pieces from the company's history, is "Who Knew?" performed by returning Kaleidoscope alumni.

"We're actually going to make it up the night before," said Anne Green Gilbert, Kaleidoscope's founder and artistic director. "It's going to be some movement combinations and a structured improvisation. It'll be different and exciting. ... It's going to be pretty fun, I think."

One-of-a-kind company

Different. Exciting. Fun. Those words could be used to describe the dance company itself, which Gilbert created in 1981 as an offshoot of her school, the Creative Dance Center.

"I started it because I don't believe in formal recitals," Gilbert said. "There were children who wanted to perform, so I created a company. ... It's really the only company of its kind in the U.S."

Summer classes

Creative Dance Center is located in the Haller Lake Community Club at 12577 Densmore Ave. N. in Seattle. Summer-session classes begin June 25 and last five to eight weeks. A variety of classes are available for all ages, from toddler to adult. One-week summer camps also begin June 18. Space is limited. For more information, call 206-363-7281 or visit

Kaleidoscope is one of the oldest modern-dance companies in Seattle, and consists of boys and girls between ages 8 and 14. Most get their start by taking classes at Creative Dance Center. If they show enough interest and ability, they're invited to join the company.

Jan Corriston grew up taking dance classes and wanted to instill that same appreciation of the arts in her own children, Ryan and Erin.

Boost in children's confidence

"I saw such a growth in self-confidence," Corriston said. "They both tended to be somewhat shy as children. ... It was thrilling to see that happen."

Both have expressed a desire to pass the gift of dance to their own kids someday, she added.

And whether or not a student decides to pursue dance professionally, as he did, says Ryan Corriston, there's much to be gained from the Kaleidoscope experience.

"The great thing about Kaleidoscope is, it's not designed to create dancers," Ryan Corriston said. "We're having this 20th reunion concert, and there are just a few of us who are wanting to pursue dance as a career. It's more about development as a human being."

Pam Sitt can be reached at 206-464-2376 or


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