About Amy O’Neal

“Few artists have been so successful at combining humor, pathos, and philosophical inquiry in such a loose, wide ranging format, or have managed to distill it with such vitality.”

Jim Demetre, Artdish

Amy O’Neal is an award-winning dancer, performer, choreographer, movement director, published writer, and dance educator based in Los Angeles. As a physically multi-lingual movement artist, she equally participates in street and club dance culture and contemporary dance and performance. Her passion and research meet at the intersection of the communities that she dances in, where she explores the complex differences, nuance, and layers of hybridized movement vocabularies. A sought after artist for eighteen years, she teaches and performs nationally and internationally, choreographing for stage, commercials, live music shows, galleries, dance films, and music videos. Her work is an amalgam of her diverse movement and life experiences presenting social commentary with dark humor and heavy beats.

For fifteen years, she taught contemporary dance and street dance styles at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle.  She spent seven years developing and teaching for The Young Choreographer’s Lab /Seattle Youth Dance Collective and has taught dance composition and improvisation for Seattle Theater Group’s Dance This program since 2005.  She continues to be a guest artist at several colleges and universities in the US. In Fall of 2015, she was full time Guest Artist in Residence at Mills College in Oakland, CA where she developed a Street and Club dance course structured to bring in local experts in different Street dance styles and facilitate conversation and knowledge about Hip Hop Culture values and practices. She brought this course to the University of Washington in winter of 2017.

She works extensively with musician/comedian Reggie Watts (since 2002) both on stage and screen. She choreographed his Comedy Central-produced “Fuck, Shit, Stack” video and toured nationally in his show “Disinformation” 2007-2009.  From 2000-2010, she was co-director of locust (music/dance/video) with musician/composer, Zeke Keeble, creating six evening-length works and several shorter works and was the lead singer for their former band, Marrow.  She was also in a David Bowie cover band called Heroes. She has collaborated with Savion Glover and Daniel Bernard Roumain through Seattle Theater Group and was commissioned twice by Spectrum Dance Theater/Donald Byrd and Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble.

Amy has been an artist in residence at Bates Dance Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, the US/Japan Choreographer’s Exchange, and Velocity Dance Center.  She is a Creative Capital, National Performance Network, National Dance Project, Mid Atlantic Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Art, and James W. Ray Project Venture/Artist Trust Grantee. She is a two-time Artist Trust Fellow, DanceWEB Scholar,  two-time Stranger Genius Awards nominee, and Herb Alpert Award nominee with a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts where she received the first Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014. Her dance writing has been published in Dance Magazine, City Arts Magazine, and ArtDish Forum.

In recent years, she was an invited dancer for Clas/Sick Hip Hop at YBCA in 2014 and an invited panelist for the dance element of the 206 Zulu Nation’s 2015 Meeting of the Minds.  She was invited to battle for two years in a row at Queen of the Hill: All Ladies/All Styles Seven to Smoke annual event at Folklife Festival in Seattle. Along with friend and colleague, Dani Tirrell, Amy is the co-founder and co-producer of Seattle House Dance Project, an annual 4-day celebration of House music and dance culture with classes, parties, battles, and panel discussions.

Amy has directed movement for actors in commercials for X Box and Phillips Healthcare and several theater productions on the west coast.  She has also choreographed and staged flash mobs and large scale corporate events. She is passionate about empowering people to be in their bodies and has coached musicians, actors, business folk, doctors, lawyers, professional dancers, and everyday dancers on finding purpose and healing through movement.

 After twenty years living and working as a dance artist in Seattle, WA, Amy recently relocated to Los Angeles.  She currently teaches a weekly all levels/all styles guided freestyle class focusing on musicality called Rhythm is a Dancer at The Sweat Spot in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA.

Choreographic and performance work presented by: Los Angeles Performance Practices at Grand Performances (Los Angeles, CA), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), PICA TBA Festival (Portland, OR), Joyce Soho (NYC), Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out (Becket, MA), Myrna Loy Center (Helena, MT), ODC (San Francisco, CA), Southern Theater (Minneapolis, MN), Project Motion (Memphis, TN), SUSHI (San Diego, CA), Off Center Festival (Costa Mesa, CA), Velocity Dance Center (Seattle, WA) University of Hawaii (Hilo, HI), Maui Arts and Cultural Center (Kahului, HI), Kahilu Theater (Waimea, HI), Spoleto Festival USA (Charelston, SC), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), Okinawa Prefectural Museum (Okinawa, Japan), Kyoto Art Center (Kyoto, Japan), Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, WA), Spoleto Festival USA (Charelston, SC), Festival Danza Sin Frontreras UNAM (Mexico City, Mexico), and ProDanza Italia (Castigliencello, Italy).

Dance film screenings: RADAR: Exchanges in Dance Film Frequencies (Vancouver, BC), Next Moment Film Festival (Tokyo, Japan), International Screendance Festival at American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), Next Dance Cinema (Seattle, WA), and San Souci Festival (Boulder, CO), and San Souci Festival (Collegetown, PA).

General Operating support was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Artist’s Statement

I am an American dance artist who creates at the intersection of street and club dance culture and contemporary dance and performance.   I create from a place that is deeply respectful of the roots of these cultures, while innovating through the synergy of my experience in them. I am physically multi-lingual in practice and expression. I feel most at home as an aesthetic and cultural intermediary and most embodied when I can hold space for both of these cultures. I create multiple entry points into my work through movement, sound, media, audience participation, and abstracted story so that the audience may find space and ownership in their experience of the work.

For the past eighteen years, my artistic practice and research as a dancer, choreographer, movement director, and teacher has been focused on empowering the aesthetically and culturally diverse voices of the artists and students that I collaborate with.  My whole career, I have worked with performers from varied cultures and movement experiences to bring forth their strengths, challenge personal limitations, and celebrate the history in their bodies.  My body of performance and film work is steeped in social commentary around self-mythology, pop culture, and the excavation of value systems around race, gender, and class in different artistic and cultural practices.  I create movement and context closely with performers and thrive in deeply collaborative environments.

I believe creativity is a birthright and am passionate about helping my students feel empowered to take ownership of theirs.  I focus on teaching functional physical patterning so that dancers can make bolder physical and emotional choices without wrecking themselves.  Improvisation and freestyling are rigorous techniques that inform movement that is set, remembered, and drilled.  My classes often include both.  As a teacher, I hope for my students to leave my classes feeling more physically and emotionally aware.  As a dancer, I hope for my audience to feel what I am communicating.  As a choreographer and movement director, I hope for my audience to gain a new perspective on themselves and the world around them leave them with the desire to move. Through these practices, I am deeply committed to the transformation of myself, my students, and my audience.