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Kabby Mitchell, RIP

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This is making me so very sad.  Kabby Mitchell was a wonderful performer, and an incredible asset to the company back when they were still working to establish their credentials in the city.  The photo above is just one example of his ebullient quality, but he could also be stern, sexy, and transcendent.  After he left the company, he was part of multiple projects in the Northwest and elsewhere, including a new performing arts school in Tacoma, Washington -- it is sometimes a cliche to say that the dead will be missed, but in this case it is very painfully true.

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In the "Beyond Ballet" discussion hosted at PNB this past Wednesday, the panelists spoke about how important it was to see someone who looked like them at the front of the classroom.  


Mitchell's death is a huge blow to the new school and to the community.

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The Seattle Times published an obituary:




Mr. Mitchell is survived by his sister Patricia Corbert and her family, and by the many friends and students whose lives he touched. His life will be celebrated in a memorial service at 2 p.m. July 9 at Seattle’s Paramount Theater; it will be a weekend of celebrating his legacy, with the Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center planned to open July 8. Donations in Mr. Mitchell’s memory, the family suggests, can help continue his planned work at TUPAC; tacomaupac.org.


Among an outpouring of affection for Mr. Mitchell on Facebook this week, one friend wrote, “We will think of you dancing in the stars.”



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I just got an email from Seattle Theatre Group with this info:




Please be advised that STG has increased safety procedures to include a NO BAG policy and a requirement that all patrons remove their coats upon entry.

We apologize for any discomfort this may cause but feel that the overall safety of our patrons is the most important thing, therefore these measures have become standard practice. Note: purses of reasonable size are still permitted. We advise that you plan accordingly and refrain from bringing other bags or backpacks to the theatre. Please be prepared to remove your coat upon entry. You will be able to keep your coat with you. Thank you!



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My phone doesn't want to transfer screen shots of the program, so I'll write it out here:



Celebration of Life

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Master of Ceremony

Bertram Johnson, Minister of Advocacy, Justice and Change --

Riverside Church, NYC


Sacred Drum Circle

Etienne Cakpo, Thione Diop, Yaw Amponsah, Mohammed Shaibu, Kokou Gbakenou



Makeda Ebube


He Has Never Failed Me Yet

Total Experience Gospel Choir

Led by Pastor Patrinell Wright


Seattle Mayor, Edward Murray


Warrior Spirits Walking the Earth

NW Tap Connection, Melba Ayco, Director

Shaina Mitchell, Alex Jackson, Dani Long & ensemble


Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates

Co-Founder, The Conciliation Project


Que! 3rd movement

Choreography by Kabby Mitchell, III

ARC Dance Company, Marie Chong, Artistic Director

Mark David Bloodgood, Alice Cao, Erin Crall, Diana Crowder,

Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin, special appearance by Erricka S. Turner

and Bertram Johnson


Francia Russell

Co-Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet, 1977-2005


Smoke and Tequila

Choreographed by Alex Crozier

Spectrum Dance Theater, Donald Byrd Artistic Director

Performed by Lena Silverman


Video Tribute to Kabby Mitchell III

Dr. Gilda Sheppard, Faculty, The Evergreen State College

Edited by David Cramton



Vorece Miller


Edna Daigre, Founder Ewajo Dance Center



choreographed by José Limón

Dance Theater of Harlem Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson

Performed by DTH Company member, Da'Von Doane


The Evergreen State College

Dr. W. Joye Hardiman, Professor Emeritus, Arts & Humanities

George Bridges, Ph.D, President

Kenneth Tabbutt, Ph.D, Interim Provist

Dr. Maxime Mimms, Emerita Faculty, Tacoma Campus Co-Founder


Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center (TUPAC)

Klair Etheridge, Director, Kabby Mitchell, III, Artistic Director


Musical Tribute

Owuor Arunga & Josephine Howell


Josh LaBelle, Executive Director Seattle Theatre Group

Ricardo Frazer, Board President, Seattle Theatre Group



Reception Immediately Following



Special Thanks

Seattle Theatre Group, staff, board, volunteers, and crew

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Dilettante Chocolates

Tom Douglas Catering


Kabby Mitchell, III

Artist, Cultural Ambassador, Trailblazer, Educator, Friend!

December 31, 1956 -- May 4, 2017

Forever in our hearts.



The Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center was Kabby's dream.

Please support his legacy by contributing to the GoFundMe

campaign, https://www.gofundme.com/kabby-mitchell-iii-tupac





Kabby's Family (In attendance)

Patricia & James Corbert, George & Colleen Everly, Noah James

Everly, Jurnee Rose Everly, Kabby Mitchell, IV, & Melissa Everly,

Kabby Mitchell Everly, V, Varonica Marzett


Kabby Mitchell, IV spoke, as did another nephew (if I understood correctly)
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It really wasn't about Kabby Mitchell, III, Dancer, but about Kabby Mitchell, III, Mensch.  It was about his generosity as a teacher, mentor, colleague, social justice warrior, friend, founder, and bigamist: at least 2/3 of the women said they were his wife :)  It was about his smile, his eyes, his honesty, his sarcasm, his humor, his laugh, his love of family, food, friends, justice, community.  It was about the man who, as Francia Russell described, bored and playing a Capulet, found a huge, blond fright wig and wore it onstage.  Hearing her heels in an attempt to grab him at his exit, he exited the other way.  As he realized that she realized what he had done and headed the other way, he did another zig.  Back and forth until she caught up with him, and then they both burst into laughter and couldn't stop.  It was about the man who, when after he'd been teaching, a disabled student started to cry, and when he asked what was wrong, the student, who had Cerebral Palsy, was bereft about not being able to do the movement.  The next day, he taught choreography from the waist up.  It was a celebration of a life that was cut way too short.

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He was generous with his time, he was generous with his skills, and he was generous with his spirit.  I don't ever remember him saying "no" to a request.


He originally trained in Oakland, and came to Seattle to teach for Edna Daigre, who ran a studio here focused on Dunham technique.  Kabby walked into an audition for Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1979, when the company was still very raw (Francia Russell's comment yesterday was that they had a collection of semi-professional dancers at the time, with the emphasis on "semi")  He performed with them until 1984, as well as more briefly with Nederlands Dance Theater and Dance Theater of Harlem.  He taught at the PNB school, created works for their summer shows in the 1980s, ran his own company for several seasons, danced in Las Vegas a couple of times...


He was a lovely dancer -- everyone remarked on his flexibility and elevation, but the thing I remember was his clarity.  His phrasing and shaping was so full.


He went on to work extensively in the theater as a director and choreographer, as well as teaching at Evergreen State College, which has a very collaborative academic structure -- he team taught with artists, scientists, and other scholars.  And he had just launched a new arts school in Tacoma with a focus on young students of color -- they opened their doors the day before this memorial service.


It was wonderful to hear stories and see video, but the lesson I took away with me is one that I often feel at events like this.  Do the work you should be doing now -- appreciate the people in your life now.  Don't wait till later.



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This is a wonderful article about TUPAC and Mitchell:




The focus would be providing arts education for children of color with limited means.


“We wanted to make a school where children could see teachers who look like them, who understood how to talk to them, how to inspire them,” [TUPAC Co-founder Klair] Ethridge said.


In March, Ethridge and Mitchell looked at the space TUPAC now occupies.


On the drive home, Ethridge turned to Mitchell.


“I said, Kabby, what are we going to call this’?”


Ethridge decided they needed a catchy acronym.


“As soon as I said that a Tupac (Shakur) song came on the radio,” she said. The rapper’s name inspired them.


“We worked (the acronym) out,” Ethridge recalled. “I said, ‘Kabby, write it down right now’.”



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