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And the Amy Award goes to...

Vincent Palazzolo-Packard -
Vincent Palazzolo-Packard
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...Vincent Palazzolo-Packard, dancer and actor.

Vincent Palazzolo-Packard got a phone call that left him the same way his performances leave audiences: speechless.

That’s how Palazzolo-Packard learned he is the recipient of the sixth annual Amy Award for emerging Bainbridge artists. An awards ceremony in his honor will be held May 1 at the home of Dave and Caren Anderson, who funded the endowment in honor of their late daughter.

“I kinda freaked out. My mouth dropped open,” said Palazzolo-Packard, after finding several messages from Bainbridge Performing Arts and thinking he’d done something wrong. “I got a little teary-eyed, but I was at work and couldn’t do anything about it.

“This is a great honor. Bainbridge Island has a lot of talented, amazing people and they chose a 19-year-old-kid. It’s such an honor, something I don’t take lightly.”

The Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council administers the Amy Award program, overseeing the management of the award funds, publicity and the award presentation. BIAHC and Bainbridge Performing Arts each select the winner in alternate years.

Bainbridge High School theater teacher Bob McAllister remembers the then-ninth-grade lad saying he wanted to be in an upcoming production.

When McAllister said he’d have to audition, Palazzolo-Packard replied that he didn’t have anything prepared, but he could dance. McAllister agreed and what he witnessed left him slack-jawed.

“He did a dance and, my gosh, he was amazing,” McAllister recalled with a wide grin. “He was the first student choreographer. (The show was) ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar.’”

Palazzolo-Packard got that same reaction with every project he undertook on the island and in Seattle, whether he was the performer, the choreographer, the writer – or all three. Those who know the man or his body of work would agree with Bainbridge Performing Arts’ assessment that he deserves the Amy Award for exhibiting “a sense of quality, creativity, exploration and dedication in his field.”

“BPA is very excited about the selection of Vincent Palazzolo-Packard for the Amy Award. Vince’s exhilarating performances and his theatrical imagination make him a rising star,” said Christopher Shainin, the BPA’s managing director.

“He is just the kind of artist that could benefit greatly from this award,” Shannin said. “BPA is honored to again be involved with this important source of support to young artists.”

While at BHS, Palazzolo-Packard stayed busy. Among other projects, he choreographed and danced in “West Side Story”; choreographed and produced “This is Now…,” which played at Seattle’s Moore Theater; performed with the Swingin’ Hep Cats; and was the Suicide God in the BPA’s production of “Joe Bean: The Rock Opera.” He also performed in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s summer production “Dance This,” with the Joffrey Ballet.

After graduating from BHS in 2005, Palazzolo-Packard moved to Seattle to learn the business side of his art. He now works with choreographer Sonia Dawkins and her Prism Dance Theatre.

“I help her run things,” he said. “Right now she is teaching me how to dance and run a dance company.”

Ultimately, Palazzolo-Packard would like to have his own company, “something different but intense” in the Cirque du Soleil vein. He sees himself as an artistic director, more on the production end rather than the performing side.

“I’m in love with creating and watching it come to life,” he said.

Since relocating, Palazzolo-Packard has worked at being not as busy as he once was. After high school he was still in “show mode,” he said, and separating himself from that was hard. He found himself “networking as fast as possible” and began working with a mentor who imparted knowledge about the business side of performing and how to sell himself.

Even in this short period of time, Palazzolo-Packard has gleaned many life lessons from working in the “adult world.”

His Achilles heel, he said, is education. He wants to learn as much about his field as thoroughly and quickly as possible. He already has discovered one interesting revelation: “There’s lots of people with money who want to fund your shows but are not creative.”

Those, he says, “are the cool people to hang out with.”

“Being a youth working with adults I get ‘You’re 19? No way!’” he laughs. “You have to roll with the punches.”

Palazzolo-Packard is appreciative for what he has.

“I think I’m very lucky I have a talent I can use anywhere. There are more life lessons for the life I want to live,” Palazzolo-Packard said. “I have awesome opportunities for these life lessons.”

He also never forgets what Bainbridge Island has done for him.

“I have tremendous support on the island for what I want to do,” he said.

Palazzolo-Packard has a slew of future plans. In the works for the summer is a performance joining dancers from Dawkins’ professional dance company with dancers from his own company.

In the meantime, he added, “I’m taking it all in. I’m just working as an apprentice and learning as much as I can.”

This gives him options, he said, such as signing on with Nike to teach in the company’s new dance division, a partnership between the corporate office in Portland and 24 Hour Fitness.

“I have people pushing me (in my life),” Palazzolo-Packard said. “This creates a new bar for me to reach.”

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