“I’m more interested in the process than the end,” says Loni Landon, one of the three choreographers of THREEFOLD, Whim W’Him’s January 16-18 program at the Cornish Playhouse in Seattle Center. Loni is small and intense with a great mass of curly reddish brown hair and piercing blue eyes. She has been dancing “ever since I remember.
My mom danced too. I had lots of energy.” Dancing was a good way to get it out.


Her life, like the piece Loni is choreographing for Whim W’Him, is a combination of serendipity and steps that lead directly into other steps. Born and raised in New York City, she did ballet, tap, modern and jazz, especially ballet. It was while she was at the High School of Performing Arts that dancing became serious for her. “I had always danced for fun, but I decided by the 10th or 11th grade that I wanted to really fulfill my dream of continuing on to Juilliard.” And so she did, receiving a BFA in dance in 2005.
“It was,” she says, “a turning point for me. It is for most people. I loved everything. I didn’t want just to do ballet. Julliard put me on a trajectory toward Europe.”

Loni on floor

Photo by Christopher Peddecord, Northwest Dance Project

Growing up in New York, there had been “so much kinetic energy and vitality—many influences.” Loni says she thrived on “the contrast of quiet, calm Europe.” There, where she spent two years each with Ballet Theater Munich and Tanz Theater Munich, she says, “I learned the tools for being involved in the process.” In Munich, “I was able to work with diverse choreographers—experiencing their process, whether it was very step-heavy, with lots of counting, or exploratory, connected to the whole person as an individual.”

Loni-Paula Weiss

And in Europe Loni found her own voice, not just as a dancer but as a choreographer. This development of an distinct voice was “very important in Europe—I really liked the European style and way of working. There was time, because of more money

[more state support the arts] for exploration and process.” In a repertory company, says Loni, “I flourished most in the creative process—it was way better than learning steps.”
While in Munich, she got to create a piece for a dancers’ choreography show.
“I was really nervous, but I tried and loved it. I loved the idea of inventing steps and teaching people. Sharing space and learning together.”


On her return from Europe, Loni continued to choreograph and danced, as she still does, for the Metropolitan Opera. But, as she noted in an interview with DanceInforma, “I felt like I had nowhere to go in terms of a dance class. I did not have the money to go to a   $25 workshop, where the class would be filled with more than 50 people. I knew many other dancers felt the same way as I did and had similar complaints. In the dance scene in NY, sometimes it can feel very closed, and impossible to make a connection with a choreographer.”

with Gregory

It was out of this need that Loni and her partner Gregory Dolbashian, conceived The Playground, “an environment that was like a company setting with no company attached,” as she put it. In a partnership at Gibney Dance and located at 280 Broadway, NYC, “the Playground is an open forum where professional dancers directly engage with emerging and established choreographers. Functioning strictly on a $5 entrance fee of its participants, the Playground offers the most affordable place to explore artistry, bond as a dance community, and network with some of New York City’s freshest talent.”
Loni on The Playground

PhotoCharlie Winter

The Playground, photo by Charlie Winter

In her approach to choreographing with the Whim W’Him dancers, Loni combines the same strong sense of what she likes and a deep concern for honesty with improvisational techniques. Next week, watch for a post on Loni in the studio with dancers and composer.

Loni in studio

A joyful, peaceful and creative 2015 to Whimmers everywhere!!!