Tory Peil, the newest of Whim W’Him‘s dancers, has an animated face. She speaks articulately and is capable of great variation of expression in her body as well, perfect for the fluidity of roles she will dance in the work Olivier is currently creating. At times a mother figure, elsewhere she is a folksy beer-guzzlin’ American, a fellow prisoner, an executioner…

Her tall, powerful presence infuses her dancing with an intensity and purity that will add an exciting element to Whim W’Him’s new season.

Tory grew up “nowhere,” in a tiny place in Oregon, “totally off the grid. We had to go to town by snowmobile in the winter.” No TV either, which why it was so strange that, when her parents asked her what she would like to be for Halloween, she said without hesitation, “a ballerina.” And, she told them, she wanted to take ballet lessons. They looked at her in disbelief. She was only three. How did she even know what a ballerina was?

Kids say they want to be a lot of things, but Tory was in dead earnest. She kept on about it until she turned four, at which point her family relented and signed her up for dance classes at a local rec center. She’s never turned back.

Studying in Ashland, Oregon, under Sylvia Bolton, she spent summers on scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and Northwest Professional Dance Project. She left school early to sign on with St. Louis Ballet company, dancing there for three years before coming to Spectrum in 2008, where she also danced three years. Her experience working with Donald Byrd, she says, added depth and understanding to her work, extending her abilities and interests well beyond the confines of the classical repertoire.

This year Tory is part of Whim W’Him and taking on other projects too, such as dancing in the cabaret act Can Can Castaways (this weekend at The Triple Door), exploring possibilities of the wider world.