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17-year-old Spokane dancer to attend renowned Interlochen Arts Academy

Harris Kahler most recently trained with the Pittsburgh Ballet. Now he is headed to a school whose alumni include singer-songwriter Jewel.
Credit: Courtesy
Harris Kahler

SPOKANE, Wash. — Harris Kahler has put countless hours of work into achieving his dreams – and it’s paid off. The young ballet dancer from Spokane will soon attend a prestigious arts boarding school in Michigan.

Kahler, 17, fell in love with dance six years ago and has since trained with programs such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Ballet Arizona.

“At first, I was super mad about it,” Kahler said of his first steps into the world dance. “I cried all the way through my first class, but I slowly started to like it and I really started enjoying it when I did our recital piece for the year.”

Now, he dances upwards of 25 hours a week – including weekend classes – at Artistry in Motion Dance and Performing Arts Studio and Spokane Ballet Studio.

This summer, Kahler trained for more than a month with the Pittsburgh Ballet, where he typically danced for at least eight hours a day.

“There were so many amazing teachers and people there. The training was super intense,” Kahler added.

The next stop for Kahler: studying dance at Interlochen Arts Academy, which attracts more than 500 young artists from 40 countries. Artists study music, theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, comparative arts and motion picture arts.

Since the school was established, it has produced 43 Presidential Scholars, and its alumni include singer-songwriter Jewel, actress Felicity Huffman, jazz drummer Peter Erskine and car designer Bill Zheng.

Watch Kahler dance 

Kahler said he will mainly focus on ballet training while he attends the school, but will receive some training in other styles of dance. Along with the opportunity for more rigorous training, Kahler said he is looking forward to sharing the stage with more male dancers.

“I’m excited to have more guys that are around and some male teachers because there are not many male teachers in Spokane,” he added.

There are, of course, some nerves involved in the big move. Kahler said he is most nervous about the distance from his family, which includes six siblings who are all active in the arts.

But he knows his time at Interlochen will help him accomplish two of his ultimate goals: making it as a professional dancer and giving back to the Spokane community.

“I think it would be great to be in a company,” Kahler said. “My plan is, after I do Interlochen, looking into some grad programs at other ballet companies and hopefully going there.”

Kahler knows that his professional dance career will one day come to an end – but he has a plan.

Kahler reached a point in his Spokane training where he did not feel challenged. He hopes to take over a dance studio or launch a new one in the future that would up the level of dance training in the local community.

“If there are kids in the same place as I was, I want to give them a place to get that training. I would love to try and up the programs here,” Kahler added.

Kahler leaves on Aug. 28 for Interlochen, where he will spend the remainder of the school year.

Those who are interested in helping to fund Kahler’s journey can visit his GoFundMe page, which has already raised nearly $3,300 of a $8,400 goal.

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