About image

Santiago Villarreal. Photo by Thierry Des Fontaines

NW Dance Project was founded in Portland in 2004 by acclaimed dancer, mentor and choreographer Sarah Slipper. NW Dance Project is dedicated to the creation and performance of innovative, new contemporary dance works from established and emerging dance makers created in an open and artistically stimulating environment.

NW Dance Project has fostered the creation and Portland premiere of nearly 300 original contemporary dance works to date. Our dedication to providing dancers and dance makers the resources and creative room needed to realize new, inspired dance works led Dance International Magazine to proclaim that we are “changing the way dance is created” and that NW Dance Project has become “a laboratory, factory and repository for risk-taking new works from the next generation of choreographers from Europe and North America.”

In order to produce the next wave of significant dance works, we are also committed to advancing dance education and community involvement. In March 2014, NW Dance Project opened our beautiful new 8,500 square foot well-appointed Creative Center in the heart of Portland’s Inner Eastside, where we lead dance education for adults and children through our various projects, intensives, workshops and classes as well as opportunities for established and emerging dance makers to choreograph and refine new works set on our company of classically trained, fearless contemporary company dancers.

Because dance cannot survive without new audiences and a deepened appreciation of the art form, we strive to engage individuals and communities with dance through accessible performances by our company, studio sessions, dance samplers, outdoor performances, special events, master classes, collaborations with artists of other performing arts and visual genres and conversation with artists. We even do the unexpected – bringing performances to the streets, coffee shops, hospitals and the occasional escalator in shopping malls! We also love offering the experience of dance and ongoing, interactive dance education programs for young, challenged members of our community through our cost-free Dance Moves program and holding free public performances as often as possible.

an essential part of the city’s arts scene

The Oregonian

some of the best dancers you will ever see

Calgary Herald

one of the most dynamic dance troupes in the country

Oregon Public Broadcasting

a company of slick, skilled dancers

The New Yorker


NW Dance Project celebrates, supports, and represents excellence in dance. NW Dance Project is dedicated to creating and performing inspired, original contemporary dance works from the field’s most talented choreographers from around the world and to providing the finest dance training available for all. We perform, educate, create, cultivate, and champion diversity while engaging and deepening public appreciation and support of dance.

Guiding Principles

To provide a training center of outstanding and exemplary quality and bring together local, national, and international artists.

To support and develop dance creation by providing a laboratory for established and emerging choreographers to work, research and experiment while providing an opportunity for directors of dance companies to work with, mentor, and observe new talent.

To provide a showcase for dancers, choreographers, and directors to present new, emerging, and established dance works, and advance Portland’s reputation for producing new and inspired art.

To create a collaborative and inclusive environment that actively promotes respect for diversity in all areas of the organization and to further establish Portland as a rich kettle of arts and culture by bringing together a diverse group of citizens and entities to achieve a shared goal.

To acknowledge the presence and strength of Portland’s dance artists and companies and their contributions to the evolution and advancement of dance.

To serve the community by providing a unique and meaningful arts program, thereby making Portland a destination for dance artists and dance audiences.

To build, inspire, entertain and nurture audiences for dance while engaging and deepening public appreciation and support of dance.

NW Dance Project, its employees, and Board of Trustees, conducts business in an ethical manner and provides a positive and respectful environment for both internal and external constituents.

Equity Statement

NW Dance Project believes that in order to advance the art form of dance, we must be representative of our future audiences, patrons, students, and supporters. By bringing together people with a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences while encouraging a community and culture of openness and acceptance, we are working to take an innovative and approach to dance creation, performance, training, and recreation that is welcoming, accessible, engaging, and inclusive to all. NW Dance Project is constantly working to ensure that dance is for everybody and every body, and we are striving to find ways to make this ideal and core belief a greater reality each and every day. NW Dance Project is dedicated to the fair, just, and equitable treatment of all races, cultures, national origins, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, religions, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

Land Acknowledgement

NW Dance Project offers this land acknowledgment with gratitude, appreciation, and respect to those who lived upon and stewarded this precious land before colonization. The Portland metropolitan area, originally known as the Wapato Valley, rests on the unceded land and village sites of numerous indigenous tribes including Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other peoples who lived and made their homes along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
We recognize that this land was unjustly taken from these tribes and we take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.
We wish to recognize and honor the present-day federally recognized tribes of this area: Grande Ronde, Siletz, and Cowlitz; as well as Chinook Nation, whose federal recognition is long overdue.
Our debt to these honored peoples as well as their descendants is abundant, present, and everlasting.