About Amy O’Neal

Photo by Nate Watters
Amy O’Neal is a versatile dancer, performer, choreographer, and dance educator with one foot firmly planted in Street and Club Dance culture and the other in Contemporary dance and performance.  She is passionate about the intersection of these worlds and how they connect, while honoring their cultural differences.  A sought after artist for seventeen years, she has taught and performed nationally and internationally, choreographing for stage, commercials, rock 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.
 Amy’s work has been presented by 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), 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).  Her dance films have been screened at RADAR: Exchanges in Dance Film Frequencies (Vancouver, BC), Next Moment Film Festival (Tokyo, Japan), International Screendance Festival at American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), and San Souci Festival (Boulder, CO).
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 has been a guest artist at several colleges and universities in the US and was a full time Guest Artist in Residence at Mills College in Oakland for Fall semester 2015.
 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.
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, and two-time Stranger Genius Awards 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.
 Recently, 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 has been 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.
 Currently,  she splits here time between Seattle and Los Angeles. She teaches House dance at The Beacon: Massive Monkees studio in Seattle where she co-hosts a monthly House open session with her friend/colleague, Dani Tirell. She teaches an all levels/all styles guided freestyle class called Rhythm is a Dancer at The Sweat Spot in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA.
Amy is also developing a Street Dance course for the University of Washington’s Dance Department where local experts of Street and Club dance styles are brought in to share their practice and culture.

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 of the Hip Hop generation who creates at the intersection of Street and Club dance 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 feel most at home as an aesthetic and cultural intermediary and most embodied when I can hold space for both of these worlds. 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 seventeen years, my artistic practice and research as a dancer, choreographer, 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 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 always include both.  As a teacher, I hope for my students to leave my class feeling more physically and emotionally aware.  As a dancer, I hope for my audience to feel what I am communicating.  As a choreographer, I hope for my audience to leave the theater with a new perspective and desire to go out dancing.   Through these practices, I am deeply committed to transformation of myself, my students, and my audience.