On National Dance Day, Pasadena Troupe Founder Reflects on 20 Years of Joy, Awareness and Healing Through Movement

Published on Sep 18, 2020

When Hilary Thomas first gathered some fellow dancers and began putting on benefit shows in 1999, she said she never imagined the organization would grow into the vibrant community of artists it has since become.

Lineage Dance is a contemporary nonprofit dance company that seeks to marry performance art with community advocacy, with a focus on making arts accessible to all, according to the organization. Saturday marks National Dance Day.

In the earliest days, “We would travel across the country and put on benefit concerts for organizations,” Thomas said. “That little chapter was really so much fun and such an adventure in it. And things just kind of built from there.”

“We would meet more people, meet more artists, and they kind of worked their way into the fold. And now the lineage family is huge,” she said. “There’s so many people that call Lineage their home and their artistic home. It makes me really proud to know that we’ve kind of created this resource in Pasadena for people to be able to come and make their artistic and creative visions a reality.”

The group was just preparing to unveil its brand new Lineage Performing Arts Center earlier this year, but then came the COVID-19 pandemic. But Thomas says while the grand opening of the new performance center is now on hold until social distancing restrictions are eased, Lineage Dance is keeping busy.

“We literally just finished construction on this brand new space. At kind of the moment we were about to open to the public the world shut down,  and at first we were really frustrated by that,” she said.

“But now it’s been, it’s really kind of a  lovely opportunity to take a breath and reflect and enjoy the space and focus on what we want to do and how we want to move forward.”

In the meantime, the organization is offering a series of classes online to keep the dancing community connected and on their feet.

Thomas, who is also a science teacher, said she’s also found dancing and the arts have therapeutic benefits.

“We also have a program that I’m really proud of that is called our Dance for Joy program. And that offers dance movement, theater and music classes to people who are suffering from neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s, or people who are recovering from stroke,” she said.

Hilary Thomas (far right) shown teaching. (Image courtesy Lineage Dance via Facebook)

“I teach all about the human body and the brain, and so to me, bringing dance and science together is totally fascinating,” she said.

Thomas’ said her favorite part of running Lineage Dance is watching participants grow as artists.

“They come to me with big ideas of things that they want to create, and it makes me so happy to know that we’re fostering this creativity,” she said. “That’s so essential to everybody, especially right now.”

“We just have fun together and laugh together, and there’s this incredible community that’s been built,” Thomas said. “This program has kind of taken off in ways that we could never have imagined when we first started it.”

More information on Lineage Dance and the Lineage Performing Arts Center is available online at lineagepac.org.

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