By Mikael Krummel

Despite her lengthy association with the local nonprofit dance organization #Instaballet, program administrator Miranda Atkinson confesses she often succumbs to feelings of awe over what she’s party to. “I still can’t believe it!” she says. “We’ve been around for more than 10 years and it seems nobody else in the country, or the world, does what we do at #Instaballet!”

#Instaballet launched in 2013 as an experiment conceptualized by current Eugene Ballet choreographer Suzi Haag and dancer Antonio Anacan. Today, Haag works as #Insta’s founding director and Anacan is artistic director. Not so surprisingly, the #Insta mission today remains much the same as originally conceived: “To teach the use of creativity to empower the self and build community through the art of dance.” 

However, that mission statement hardly showcases the tremendous changes in ambition, activity, and approach reflected in #Insta’s stunning growth over the past decade. 

“#Instaballet is about creating together,” explains Anacan. “The fact that we’re engaged with the community, with each other’s shared conversations, with each other’s involvements and visions. The most important aspect is our creating together.”

That shared creativity takes many impressive forms. Simply speaking, dance performances in the #Insta style typically involve a handful of dancers plus a director encouraging audience members to share ideas and suggestions intended to shape the dance performance. Suggestions can include musical ideas, physical movements, moods and feelings, and other prompts.

In 2016, #Insta broke new artistic ground by creating a dance workshop with autistic students at Bridgeway House. In 2018, another benchmark was added via an experimental outreach event for emotionally troubled students at Jasper Mountain School. Those events have since inspired many new outreach opportunities with the Eugene Library, neighborhood community centers, Circle of Friends Program, A3 Sky Camp, The Relief Nursery, and other organizations. 

This fall, #Insta formally partnered with local public schools and the Lane Arts Council. Future plans include likely collaborations with the Eugene Symphony and the development of trademark and copyright controls over #Instaballet methods as a precursor to expanding #Instaballet trainings across the states.