Our culture and core belief is that everyone and Every “Body” should have accessibility to the arts and dance, regardless of socioeconomic background, age, race, gender, identity, or physical, mental ability.
Prior to our inception in 2002, this was the first consideration and conversation we had concerning Polaris Dance Theatre’s purpose, mission, and most importantly, our culture.
Rather than trying to quantify diversity, equity and inclusivity by numbers,’s goals or percentage, we passionately built a culture on our beliefs which we live and practice.
This belief and culture permeate through our entire organization, our board, staff, dance company members, instructors, and volunteers, passionately committed to welcoming and providing opportunity to Every “Body” in our community. Making the experience and expression of dance, and dance education fully accessible to All.
We continuously work to grow and improve our open and inclusive environment. This is exemplified throughout Polaris’s programming and outreach such as, All-Access, Rise to Dance, Free to Dance, Adult class. Together from our beginner to advanced classes, our many scholarships, and our classes for seniors and those with altered-abilities, we built a cultural environment and platform for all and of all.
This is also evident in Polaris Dance Theatre’s collaborative footprint in our community. Since our inception we continue to work with a multitude of organizations and groups in a non-elitist style. Our goal and purpose is to tear down proverbial walls, and to build bridges of cooperation and collaboration with other organizations, individuals and our communities. Below is a brief description of some of these programs:
All Access Program – Is dedicated to the premise, that every “body”, no matter age or abilities (physical or mental), has the potential and the right to explore dance/movement through space and experience the benefit and healing properties that movement and conditioning can empower to individuals. Connecting individuals to a deeper level of awareness of their bodies, capabilities and the power they possess within their unique expressive voice. Not only building a stronger connection with oneself and the community that they are already associated with. But a stronger connection with the community at large by bridging demographic divides. Bringing individual and communities together under the same setting, same room and same environment. Celebrating the potential and possibilities within us all, while at the same time tearing down systematic stereotyping of appearance or demographic groups.
The All Access program seeks not only to work with the individuals but, to work collaboratively with organizations and centers that work with individuals from the senior and altered abilities communities. (i.e. the blind, deaf, down syndrome, Parkinson’s, Autistic, veterans… and other altered abilities)
“Our organization, Creative Goal Solutions, supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate fully in their communities. Since 2014, some of the people we serve have participated in Polaris’ All Access class. The class is an amazing opportunity for people to express themselves through dance. Many may struggle with verbal communication, yet can find a way to express themselves in Polaris’ open and supportive environment. Others we support have found that they are able to strengthen their brain-body connection through music and dance. Still others find a strengthened sense of belonging and social connectedness through the class. Sara fully engages each participant, encouraging them to create and to lead. The result is an increased sense of self-efficacy, body awareness, and confidence. The program has been tremendously valuable to our clients!
– Sasha Vidales, Director & Co-President OSPO Coalition
“Our group has been attending the all access dance class for over two years now. It has been so wonderful to see our customers open up like never before through the creative dance movements and activities that Sara leads. Our group always looks forward to Friday afternoons at Polaris, where the dancing gives them a powerful voice and avenue in which to express themselves.and be heard! Beyond the dancing, the class has also encouraged our customers to meet and socialize with new friends each week. Thank you Sara and Polaris!”
– Pat Hayes, MSW Creative Goal Solutions
“The dance class is totally awesome! Lights and drama and color. I can see myself doing things into my own life. It helps me feel more comfortable being in front of the crowd. I can make many people shine. Big smiling faces on stage next to me. Really special, like a real live friendship. It feels like magic.”
-All Access Student, Michael
“As a new support provider for adults with developmental/intellectual disabilities, I was delighted to learn about Polaris’ All Access program. Then watching Sara, the instructor, work with the class, I was doubly delighted. She takes the strengths and creativity of each participant to form a dance that the group has fun engaging in. Participants are encouraged to share their ideas and care is taken to integrate everyone involved. I have been participating too and find it to be the highlight of my week!”
-Dena, Caretaker of All Access Student
Polaris’ Rise to Dance program offers year-round programming focused on breaking down economic barriers and allowing low-income families to experience the power of the performing arts.
For the past few years, The Shanghai Children’s Palace has visited Portland for a few days of classes and performances with Polaris, including a presentation of their cultural dances for the public. Groups of girls, ages 10 – 12, join us for two morning classes each day, and spend the rest of the afternoon touring our beautiful city!
Artistic Director, Robert Guitron with the assistance of Program Director, Sara Anderson, teach our international students, focusing on all contemporary-based disciplines. The Children’s Palace students have shared their culture with Polaris through dance learned at their Shanghai institute, including the use of beautiful vibrant costumes and props.
If you’re interested in participating in our international program, contact Sara Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE TO DANCE
The Polaris Contemporary Dance Center offers 1 – 2 full days of free dance classes per year. On these pre-selected days, all Polaris dance classes are open to the public at no cost. Sign up for our newsletter to stay posted, and check out our free classes and performances at the annual Galaxy Dance Festival in August!
Through our scholarship program, participants who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to partake in dance are given the opportunity to shine. These scholarships are offered to low-income, students who have shown great enthusiasm in and dedication to dance. Click here for more information.