Young dancers take the stage to shine, learn

  • By Theresa Goffredo / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, July 6, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Ksenya started dancing at 10 years old. It wasn’t tap or ballet, the traditional American types of dance. And that makes sense, since Ksenya isn’t American.

In her native Russia in a little town called Magagan, Ksenya Petchenkino danced ballroom. Lots of people in that town danced ballroom and lots of competitive ballroom dancers start at age 6 or younger.

Ksenya said, with a bit of a laugh, that starting to dance at 10, like she did, might be too late. Up to this point, though, that hasn’t been a handicap.

At 14, Ksenya will already have a taste of the big time stage when she performs for the first time this weekend in “DANCE this…” at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre.

“I’m just excited,” said Ksenya, who lives in Mukilteo and starts ninth grade in the fall at Kamiak High School. “We perform a lot of ballroom always in front of people so you get used to it.”

Ksenya is among an elite group of Snohomish County dancers who will perform with the eighth annual run of “DANCE this … .” It’s a chance at main stage play for these performers, but it also introduces them to different cultures and different dance styles.

The young dancers develop their discipline in a somewhat unfamiliar territory. Generally, the experience is worth it.

“Each time you do it, it’s a completely different group,” said Audrey Pugh, 16, of Snohomish. “The whole energy changes with each group and it gets you in shape, and you get a taste of different styles, and it brings something else to your dance.”

Audrey is performing her third year with “DANCE this …” as a member of the modern dance team. She has done tap and ballet but said modern suits her.

“I like it because I don’t have to have the perfect body type or weigh 90 pounds,” Audrey said. “Modern is more relaxed and free. It still is very hard and technical in its own right.”

Shaina Mitchell, 20, of Lynnwood, has been a tap dancer for 12 years. She started at Martin Luther King Elementary in Seattle when the school began offering tap during recess.

Mitchell recalled she didn’t want to give up her recess time for tap lessons, but she told her mother the tap dance teacher was from Louisiana, her mom’s native state. At that point, Mitchell’s mother laid down the law.

“She said to me, ‘You are going to take tap classes,’” Mitchell said.

She began to enjoy the lessons and went on to ballet and is also a practiced modern dancer. This is her fourth year with “DANCE this…” but it will be her first year performing hip hop.

“It’s really different from everything else I’ve been used to,” Mitchell said. “Doing hip hop, you get low. Hip hop, it’s just as challenging as ballet or tap.”

Mitchell said she has completed her last quarter at Shoreline Community College and intends to eventually major in business to open her own tap dance studio.

As for “DANCE this…” Mitchell said this fourth year is her last, adding “I’m getting too old.”

Arts writer Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or

Rex Tranter photo

Audrey Pugh of Snohomish is one of this county’s participants in “DANCE this …” in Seattle.

Adam L. Weintraub photo

Ksenya Petchenkino of Mukilteo dances with partner Connor Zion in “DANCE this … .”

BELOW: Shaina Mitchell of Lynnwood is a tap dancer who is branching out to hip hop.

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