Adrienne Blue – President
Hello, my name is Adrienne Blue and I have been a longtime fan and friend of Dance Fremont.
When my young family and I moved to the Fremont area in 1995 we soon were introduced to a new dance school for children that opened under the Aurora Bridge. We enrolled our 4 year old daughter in an open modern dance class and the following years thereafter they became a second home. Fast forward 14 dedicated years later, she “graduated” from Dance Fremont and pursued a college & professional career, majoring in dance. The dedication and guidance of the Dance Fremont teachers cultivated our daughter into becoming a self-assured independent artist & community activist of the arts.
Back in the 1990’s Fremont was still a lower to middle income neighborhood filled with starving artists and weekend flea markets. I worked graveyard shift at a hotel downtown and my husband worked and completed college while we raised 2 small children. Sacrificing everything for our children for them to grow up having wonderful experiences with good people was one of our goals. It was our privilege to be connected with Dance Fremont since they opened their doors.
My goal as a board member is to help make the same dream of professional dance instruction come true for parents, children and adults no matter their background, while supporting faculty in making their dreams come true too.
As for my career, I have been in the hotel hospitality industry for over 25+ years. Currently, my position is an independent global account meeting coordinator. I help companies by sourcing locations, closing meeting contracts and providing them with solutions for successful meetings globally. I love what I do.
I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with friends that are on the Dance Fremont Board. Underscoring the value of inclusion and representing the endless possibility of dreaming the art of dance for all!
Gabrielle Nomura Gainor – Vice President
Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor (she/her) tells stories about Asian America through dance. The Japanese/Filipinx/Irish American has received grants from Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and the Washington State Arts Commission. A dancer, choreographer, and community activist, Gabrielle also works in communications and public engagement for Seattle Opera. The lobby displays and panel discussions she curated for Madame Butterfly were praised in The New York Times’ opinion piece “Classical Opera Has a Racism Problem” by Katherine Hu (2019). Additionally, Gabrielle has spoken on KUOW public radio regarding Asian cultural stereotypes in The Nutcracker.
In addition to serving on Dance Fremont’s board, Gabrielle dedicates her time to the Japanese American Citizens League, an API-led civil rights organization. Through Seattle JACL, she spearheaded school tours of her work “Farewell Shikata ga nai,” about the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans, and “Never Again is Now: the Art and Activism of Millennial Nikkei,” at Wing Luke Museum. Most recently, she directed Mixed Race Seattle, a conference centering Black and Brown multiracial youth and their families. Learn more at gabriellekazuko.com.
Carol Nakagawa – Treasurer
Carol Nakagawa is the art director of the Data Visualization and Design team at JPMorgan Chase Technology. Her group provides people-centric design solutions in many forms of media – print, computer applications, websites and events. She believes that good design can inspire and that a great visual experience can engage emotions as well as convey ideas. As a career journalist, she spent many years at the Seattle Times as the Pacific Northwest magazine art director and as a features and arts designer and editor.
Carol is a former dance mom whose daughter Keiko Leong was motivated to become a doctor in part because of the training she got at Dance Fremont; her love of ballet and modern kindled her passion for the art of the human body.
Karena Birk – Artistic Director
Karena was born and raised in Seattle, and started taking creative dance at age 3 after insisting on dancing around the living room to Swan Lake every single evening. She received the majority of her dance training at the Cornish Preparatory Dance Program, as well as at the Richmond Ballet, and the University of Washington. She holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, and a BA in Classics from the University of Washington. Before directing Dance Fremont, she taught ballet and modern dance at many places, including the University of Washington Bothell, Bainbridge Dance Center, Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, and Cornish Preparatory Dance. Her professional dance experience includes performing with the Colorado Ballet, Lehua Dance Theatre, ARC Dance, Catherine Cabeen-Hyphen, Redd Legg Dance, and Seattle Dance Project. She has enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to dance works of Trisha Brown, Anna Sokolow, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Fanny Elssler, Wade Madsen, Deborah Wolf, Hannah Wiley, and many others. Her MFA studies focused on pedagogy, dance performance, notation, and history, and she holds a Teaching Certification in Labanotation. She has staged a number of historical works from their Labanotation scores, including Doris Humphrey’s The Shakers, Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Etude, and selections from Helen Tamiris’s Negro Spirituals.
Jennifer Staplin – Secretary
Jennifer Staplin has extensive operations experience in the multifamily industry and has spent 20 years in marketing, systems development, community management, learning and development. Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and HR from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Most recently, Jennifer was awarded the 2017 WSHFC Friend of Housing Award for the work that she and her sister pioneered connecting homeless families with quality affordable housing opportunities in the greater Seattle area.
Jennifer studied ballet pre-professionally for more than 15 years at a satellite location of the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and was also selected to attend the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts.
Her passions include dance and theatre, particularly ballet; travel, training and mentoring multifamily industry associates, especially those on the front lines of customer service.
Christina Kennedy – Managing Director
Christina Kennedy received her early training, from Sally Tierney, in the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. She has studied with teachers in Vaganova and Balanchine style during Dance Theater of Harlem Residency programs and a summer at the Washington School of Ballet. Growing up near Washington D.C. gave her the chance to perform at the Kennedy Center multiple times. She has studied many dance styles including Modern, Broadway Jazz, Lyrical, African and Tap. While earning her BA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County she danced with the faculty directed, Phoenix Dance Company. After moving to Seattle, she danced with Redd Legg Dance, badmarmar, and Ashani Dances. Performance may be the reward for hard work in the studio but being in class is her favorite part of dancing. Her teaching style is geared toward keeping dancers healthy while making a very demanding art form fun to learn. She continues to read books about dance and take classes around the city to keep in touch with the mind of a student. She is very happy to be with the Cornish Preparatory Dance and Dance Fremont.
Nora Jaso Ludviksen – Board Member
Nora Jaso Ludviksen is a certified mediator and business communication coach. She is the founder of The Table Mediation in Seattle, and a lead volunteer mediator at the non-profit VOA Dispute Resolution Center in Everett. Nora helps people and companies resolve and prevent conflict. She serves business and organizational leaders with dispute resolution, coaching, and teaching conflict-handling skills. Nora also loves guiding teenagers in peer mediation and restorative circles.
Nora is a former Dance Fremont! parent and parent volunteer coordinator, whose daughter pursues a professional career in contemporary dance.