Dear Friends,

It has been my privilege to be the Artistic and Executive Director of Velocity.

In March, I shared with Velocity’s Board of Trustees that after 16 years with Velocity, and 7 years as its institutional leader, I have decided not to renew my contract. Leadership change is essential for contemporary organizations to remain vital and responsive to the moment. Now is the best time for Velocity to have a new leader to take the organization forward and continue to build Velocity’s role as an essential creative hub for Seattle, and American dance.

I will not leave until Velocity has a new leader, and estimate that to be towards the end of 2018. I am making this announcement now in order to provide adequate time for a robust search for a new executive as well as a meaningful hand-off period. We have an outstanding staff, phenomenal faculty, and a board committed to Velocity’s future. Soon, we’ll reveal Velocity’s new Strategic Plan and I have curated performance programming to take-place through Spring 2019.

I want to thank the teams and artists I’ve been privileged to work with. I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved. Together, we brought Velocity back from the brink of extinction, and completed an emergency capitol campaign. We created unprecedented visibility for Seattle dance, grew a vital class culture, and dramatically increased our audiences (by 398%). We commissioned and produced countless ambitious visions around the city, created the Made In Seattle incubator that brought national funding and touring to Seattle artists; and brought dance innovators from around the world to Capitol Hill. We deepened our commitment to gender and racial equity; and developed a more diverse faculty, curriculum, and board. And we created Team Awesome – growing a small but mighty part-time staff of three, to our current team of eight. I have total faith in Team Awesome’s ability to continue to provide robust resources to artists, and bring greater visibility and viability to Seattle Dance. I’m also excited to see what a fresh brain will bring to Velocity to ensure its critical work continues.

In 2010, I applied to be Velocity’s Executive Director after I found one of my dance students crying in a studio because they “didn’t want to leave Seattle” but felt there was “nothing here” for them. I hoped to help make Velocity a supportive, creative home that inspired dancers to stay in Seattle. Together we’ve done that, and so much more; inspiring dancers to move to Seattle from around the country; developing springboards for local artists to get their work out into the world; and creating powerful entry-points for those new to dance. And we did this while balancing sustainability with a commitment to rigor, risk-taking, and inclusion. Words can’t express my gratitude for all the hard work, heart, creativity, and love you have poured into creating this incredible community.

Rather than moving to a new job immediately, I’m looking forward to stepping back to explore options, and create the flexibility in my schedule to write. I’ve been running flat-out for more than twenty-years.

Thank you to all of you. You are what makes Velocity so very special.



PS: A program dear to my heart is the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation. It became a Velocity program during my tenure, but is celebrating its 25thAnniversary this year. Please help ensure this incredible festival continues for years to come when we launch the SFDI Kickstarter on June 23. Mark your calendars!


// Press //

Read The Seattle Times spotlight: Tonya Lockyer, champion for local dance, departs Velocity Dance Center, after vertiginous success  



To the Velocity Family,

Thank you for your love of dance and of community.

As many of you know, Tonya Lockyer has decided to depart Velocity. The board has requested that she help the transition by continuing in her role as Artistic Executive Director through December 19, 2018. The whole Board thanks Tonya for her catalytic leadership over years of service to Velocity. Today, Velocity is recognized throughout the field for its exceptional programming, outstanding record of audience and artist development, and fiscal health. This is Tonya’s legacy; her inspiring vision and energy elevated Seattle’s dance community to the national stage, and our collective arts ecology is so much richer for it. We honor Tonya’s time at the helm of Velocity. We also remember that she was once an artist first, and have the deepest gratitude and respect for the leonine heart that she always brought to holding space for those with something to say. Please join us in celebrating her achievements on September 28.

I know that we are all wondering about what’s going to happen next. This might be a time of momentous change for Velocity as an organization, but a few things are certain: we will continue serving as a community resource and hub for local and regional dance artists; we will continue plugging into the national and global conversation on dance, and; we will work together with you to keep Seattle Dance strong.

Velocity Trustees and Staff desire a robust organization with strong engagement and general fundraising to meet the needs of a growing dance community in a changing city. To this end, the Board of Trustees is conducting a search for an Executive Director to build operational capacity while guiding Velocity to even greater transparency, accessibility, and equity.

The search for a new Executive Director will occur through Fall 2018, stewarded by a Search Committee comprised of artists, organizational leaders, and Velocity Staff and Trustees. The Board will announce the Committee with the opening of the position in September 2018, along with more details on the hiring process moving forward. We hope to have a new Executive Director in place at the beginning of 2019. After December 19, Associate Producer Erin Johnson will assume programmatic responsibilities historically overseen by the Artistic Executive Director. Velocity will maintain existing programs as we collaborate on how to continue serving artist needs through this leadership transition and beyond.

Velocity is truly gifted with a loving community that is deeply invested its success and evolution, as well as with a talented and dedicated Staff that is more than capable of steering ongoing operation through this time of change. The Search Committee is planning for community forums and other opportunities for the Velocity family to come together and give input on the selection process. Public community forums are planned for August 29 and October 3 (details TBA), with additional dates in the works. I look forward to seeing you there, and to building the next phase of Velocity with you.

In the meantime, the Velocity Board of Trustees invites you to connect with questions or comments regarding the search at board@velocitydancecenter.org.

Please keep Velocity going strong by making a gift to support student scholarships, artist residencies, and more, here. >>

On behalf of the Board of Trustees,

Owen David
President and Co-Chair, Executive Search Committee.