For IDC Director Valerie Bergman, dance is life. From her earliest days in Hawaii where dance and music were intricately woven into the daily culture, to her formal dance training in dance studios and at the University of Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance, through her years of professional performing in New York, and as founder and artistic director of professional dance touring company Rainbow Dance Theatre, Valerie has dedicated herself to furthering the beauty and wonder of the arts and sharing her love of dance with the world. Valerie’s passion for dance fuels her directorship of the IDC which gives her the platform to share the amazing art form of dance with so many children and families. She cherishes the supportive and inclusive dance community at the IDC, and has been honored to serve its members through the past eleven years.
Valerie danced professionally in New York for 15 years with many internationally recognized post-modern choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Nina Wiener, Mel Wong, Douglas Neilsen, and Marta Renzi. While with the Nina Wiener Dance Company, she served as principal dancer and ballet mistress, starred in several world premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Dance Festival in New York, and appeared on PBS and Dutch National Television. She has danced as well with The National Ballet of the Netherlands and the Hawaii Opera Theatre Ballet. In 1991 Valerie founded Rainbow Dance Theatre (originally called Valerie Bergman Dance Company) in Honolulu, Hawaii where she collaborated with Hawaii’s premiere world-beat band Cabaseke and internationally acclaimed Taiko drum master Kenny Endo. The Company moved its base to Western Oregon University in Monmouth in 1999, celebrating its 20th touring season this year. As dancer and choreographer, Valerie has toured throughout Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the mainland United States, Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. With RDT she has performed at international festivals the world over, including the Second International Dance Festivals in Taegu and Pusan, South Korea; World Expos in Shanghai, China, Nagoya, Japan and Seville, Spain; the 5th and 9th Concurso Continental de Danza Contemporanea in Mexico City, D.F.; Dance Tanz in Osaka, Japan; IAS Festival in Bangkok, Thailand; Men Dancing and Cultural Slam in Honolulu, Hawaii; US Embassy Festival in Kolkata, India; and the International VSArts Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
In addition to her performance and choreographic career, Valerie has directed community-based dance programs for the past 25 years both in Connecticut and in Oregon. Previous to opening the independent studio for Inspiration Dance Company, Valerie served as Director of Dance for the YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties for ten years. Her passion for sharing the art of dance with youth extends to her work with Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington and with KBAM of Vancouver, BC. Through these affiliations, Valerie and her husband Darryl Thomas bring RDT’s popular shows The Roots of Hip Hop and iLumiDance Revealed to schools and communities throughout the Northwest US and Canada reaching upwards of 40,000 audience members each year.
An inspiring dance educator, Valerie has taught dance in New York for the Finis Jhung Ballet Studio and the Viola Farber Dance Studio as well as at the State University of New York at Purchase. Other teaching credits include the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Iowa, Studio Dance Tanz of Osaka, Japan, Florida School of the Arts, Xuchang University in China, and Western Oregon University. Her signature work, One Village, Many Tribes has been set on numerous university and professional dance companies, including most recently the Danza Contemporanea de Mexico. Her work The Lisa Variations was honored nationally at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As artistic director, Valerie has created over 40 choreographic works for Rainbow Dance Theatre including the 2015 cutting edge dance work SELFIE that integrates social media and live motion tracking with dance performance bringing the audience into the performance in real time.