Today, Whim W'him announced that interim executive director Krina Turner is stepping up as the dance company's non-interim executive director. Turner, who managed a recent capital campaign for Seattle Opera and who held various arts administrative positions at ArtsFund and Spectrum Dance Theatre, took the interim ED job back in May of this year, replacing Catherine Bombico.
"It's a dream job," she told me over the phone. "I moved to Seattle five years ago because of our dance community. Seattle is in my mind one of the top five cities for dance. We have lots of great dance companies working, and I think we're really lucky here."
Turner says she started dancing around the age of 10 years old, but at 15 she discovered she had scoliosis. "I have a 40 degree curve in my spine," she said. "Dance has always kept me strong and upright, but when doing ballet or something that forces my legs up high I would get hip injuries." After spending weeks in a chiropractor during a performance of the Nutcracker, she realized she didn't have a future as a dance performer. But she maintained a fierce drive to participate in the dance world, which eventually led her to Seattle University's MFA in Arts Leadership program, and then on to Whim W'him.
In addition to fundraising and scrounging up grants, Turner says one of her biggest challenges is increasing the company's visibility. To address that issue, Turner plans to collaborate with Seattle's other contemporary dance companies. For guidance she looks to companies like BalletX in Philadelphia, who will, for instance, combine their marketing strategies with other Philly companies when they all have opening night on the same weekend. Establishing local partnerships will help increase the profile of contemporary dance in Seattle in general, she believes, and help all boats rise.
Her other mission is implementing more outreach and education programs. "People are confused about what contemporary dance is," she said. "Even at a very small level of outreach would help."
Referencing a conversation with Whim W'him's artistic director Olivier Wevers, Turner says contemporary dance "isn't about how high you can jump or how fast you can turn—it's about employing strong foundational techniques to convey a feeling." Rather than being constrained by the canons of ballet or jazz, for Turner, contemporary dance blows the possibilities for storytelling wide open while still pulling freely from the vocabularies of more established forms.