Meet Our WIDT Team
In addition to founding Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, Charlene Brown is also the co-owner of Island Dance in Langley, WA.
Charlene brings about 45 years of dance experience to her studios and to WIDT. Charlene has studied with nationally known teachers and was a member of the Tacoma Performing Dance Company under the direction of Jo Emery. Her choreography has been seen in numerous Northwest area musical and dance productions.
Brown began her dance studio, Island Dance, on Whidbey Island in 1987. She has always been committed to offering the highest possible level of dance education and professional instructors to her students. Through many years of perseverance, Charlene has provided the opportunity for
thousands of dancers to further their dance education. Many of her students have gone on to college to receive dance degrees, while many more of her students have won individual titles and honors in the field.
In 1993, extending her commitment to the art of choreography, Charlene's dream of a pre-professional dance company became a reality with Whidbey Island Dance Theatre. As the longtime co-artistic director and production manager, she directed more than 27 productions of "The Nutcracker," "The Snow Queen" and all annual WIDT spring concerts. Charlene also choreographs for "The Nutcracker" and is advisor to the WIDT Board of Directors.
Jamee Pitts was a student of Island Dance since she was three years old, shadowing her mother Charlene Brown, founder of WIDT. As of Jan. 1, 2023, Jamee became Co-Owner of Island Dance with her mother and continues to teach her very popular lyrical class, which she has done for the past 21 years.
As a sometime private coach to dancers, Jamee is also the Artistic Director and lead choreographer for the Island Dance Performing Group, where she choreographs solos/duet/group pieces for competitions.
An accomplished dancer, Jamee has performed in many WIDT spring concerts, The Snow Queen and many productions of The Nutcracker, with her favorite role being the Rat Queen in 2003. In her high school years,
Jamee competed in group, solo jazz, and lyrical competitions, winning high silvers and golds. In 2003, Jamee’s choreography on the WIDT company was chosen to be performed at the Regional Dance America/Pacific in the emerging choreographer category.
Since then, she has and continues to choreograph prolifically for the Island Dance Performing Group and WIDT productions. Pitts holds dear to her heart, the leader in her support system, husband of 18 years Stafone Pitts and daughter Tay Pitts age 17, whom she is proud to say is a graduating senior of SWHS. Jamee is where she is today because of the love and support of her mother and mentor Charlene Brown and her father, Raymond Brown. Jamee looks forward to continuing Char’s legacy and love for dance, and offering only the best to the Whidbey Island Community.
Mark Thrapp started his dance training during his college years at the Class Acts Dance Academy in Spokane, where he studied jazz, theater jazz, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, acting/improv and ballet. He continued his ballet studies at Ballet Arts in Spokane, going on to perform with Theatre Ballet of Spokane, Spokane Ballet Theatre and Uptown Opera. He performed professionally as a musical theater artist with the Norwegian Cruise Line and with the Heritage Arts Foundation Tuachan Center for the Performing Arts, Utah. In 1997, he moved to New York City where he studied modern and contemporary dance and went on to perform with Broadway Cares EFA/Dancers Responding to AIDS, Isabel Gotzkowsky and Friends, Sanza Nemo Collective, Allison Kenner, Stephanie Nelson Dance Group, Alexandra Beller, Steeledance, Sudden Enlightenment Theater, David Chen and others.
Due to injury, Mark retired from dance in 2007 and worked as a graphic designer and business advisor. In 2015, he rediscovered his love for dance in Portland, Ore. where he worked with The Aspire Project, which he credits as the singular experience that recharged his passion for dance.
After relocating to Whidbey Island, he began teaching at Island Dance Studio at its Summer Intensive advanced ballet classes and subsequently became a regular instructor there. He currently serves as Co-Ballet Coordinator for Island Dance Studio, using both his business acumen and dance experience to help aspirational dancers move on to professional careers in dance.
Mark served on the WIDT Board for several years, offering his graphic design and business organization skills. He was thrilled to be back on stage for the first time in many years as the Butler in the post-covid production of The Nutcracker.
Mark is extremely grateful to Char Brown, Island Dance Studio Founder, for taking a chance on him and giving him a home to continue his post-retirement dance career. He credits her for creating a strong training program which includes crucial opportunities for dancers to perform pre-professionally, an anomaly in such a small town; and with a level of quality not usually found outside larger cities. He is also very excited to work with Jamee to bring in new ideas to move WIDT forward and give dancers even more opportunities to love and pursue dance well beyond their years here on the island.
Board of Directors & Advisors
Secretary/Volunteer Parent Coordinator
General Board Member
General Board Member
Annie Zeller Horton
General Board Member
General Board Member
Wellness Team Lead
The History of Whidbey Island Dance Theatre
Whidbey Island Dance Theatre (WIDT) was founded in 1993 with a love for dance. Back then it was known as Whidbey Dance Theatre, and it began with the idea of creating a new and exciting opportunity for young people in its community; young creatives of all ages, who also loved dance, could find their place on stage with their peers.
Hard work paid off. As the company moved forward and found its legs, it provided real, pre-professional dance experience to outstanding young dancers. Its participation in the wider world of dance followed. The juried, national association of ballet companies, “Regional Dance America,” chose WIDT as an RDA performing company from 2001-2012. In 2014, WIDT joined the newly formed Ballet Alliance, an association of pre-professional dance companies. Each year, WIDT participates in The Ballet Alliance's annual 4-day festival where our dancers take master classes from renowned instructors, participate in dance-related seminars, perform for their peers, and forge new relationships.
Since 2000, WIDT has performed throughout Washington, as well as in Arizona, California, Utah, Oregon, at the National Dance Festival in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Montreal, Canada. Through the years, both professional and community choreographers have expressed their appreciation for the generations of talented dancers they’ve worked with at WIDT.
Each year, WIDT graces the stage with two major productions, “The Nutcracker” and “A Celebration of Dance,” its springtime performance of new choreography. Both highlight the diverse talents of its broadly trained dancers and feature the works of both resident and guest choreographers.
These productions are a gift, 30 years of WIDT making the creative, athletic, joyful and fun-to-watch magic that is dance!
Whidbey Island is about an hour drive north of Seattle, with a 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton on the south end. The island is 55 miles long and between 1 and 10 miles wide. The largest population center is at the north end at Oak Harbor, which is accessible also by the Deception Pass Bridge. WIDT is located at the south end in Langley. The company's main performance venues are South Whidbey High School Auditorium, a 400-seat theater, and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, which holds 250 seats.
What is the difference between Whidbey Island Dance Theatre and Island Dance?WIDT is an independant non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing aspiring dancers with pre-professional performance experience, as well as provide the community with high quality dance productions, like The Nutcracker (and other classical ballets) and live contemporary concert dance. Island Dance is a for-profit dance school. Although these two local organizations have a common origin, they operate completely separately -- different finances, different administration, different services, different missions. Many WIDT dancers train at Island Dance, but that's by reason of island logistics; not by any requirement. Dancers can train at any studio.
How can I become a WIDT Company Dancer?Every August WIDT holds auditions for trained dancers with extensive classical ballet training among other styles. Auditions will be posted on this website as the time approaches.
How can I perform in The Nutcracker?Every September WIDT holds open auditions for the public to try out for parts in The Nutcracker. It is open to all ages from 6 to 96. Some dance or theater experience is helpful, but not required. WIDT announces these auditions at the start of the school year.