PENINSULA PROFILE: Educator uses poetry, dance to help others reach out

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

‘Poetic Dance’ workshop

ANGIE HUCKSTEP’S NEW class titled “Poetic Dance” is open to all regardless of dance experience. This community education workshop will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

The class fee is $51 and registration can be done by phone at 360-417-6340 or at

For more information about enrolling, phone 360-417-6335; questions about the class can be sent to Huckstep at

Also, the Rebels on Stage performance artists have a Facebook page with details about the March 30 show on the Alle Stage at Studio Bob in Port Angeles. To find it, search for “Rebels on Stage Breaking Free” on

Diane Urbani de la Paz
PORT ANGELES — By day she teaches and trains students in the WorkFirst program at Peninsula College.

And by night, Angie Huckstep is fierce and playful, a lioness with dark brown curls highlighted in purple.

Those plum-hued tendrils gleamed one recent night on the Allé Stage when Huckstep performed three poems about love: love between mother and child, between man and woman — and love for oneself.

This was the Jan. 31 “Rebels on Stage” show, focusing on all kinds of love and featuring Huckstep’s performance poetry and a variety of music from other local and regional artists.

As she recited her poems from the blissful to the bawdy, Huckstep left her listeners gasping — with laughter, surprise and recognition.

A 32-year-old single mother, performance artist and holder of a master’s degree in teaching, Huckstep moved to Port Angeles 2˝ years ago for the position at Peninsula College. As the WorkFirst coordinator, she provides support for low-income students and does community outreach for the certified nursing assistant program.

She’s also raising daughter Tabby, 7, and son Zeal, 6, both students at Hamilton Elementary School.

The kids made their Allé Stage debut in December in “The 12 Days of New Year’s,” a children’s play written by Port Angeles artist Sarah Tucker.

Huckstep, meanwhile, is delighting in this new venue, which is part of the Studio Bob gallery space in downtown Port Angeles. She has appeared in a few evenings of poetry and music, and plans to perform in another “Rebels on Stage” night. The Saturday, March 30, show is around the theme of “Breaking Free,” from addiction, stereotypes, fear, people’s expectations.

“I really think it will be fabulous,” Huckstep says. “I am really enjoying these [events] at the Allé Stage.”

Much sooner, though, Huckstep will teach a one-day class for men and women interested in their own performance art.

This March 9 community workshop at Peninsula College is called “Poetic Dance,” and it’s all about using that elemental instrument: the body.

The morning will start with some exercises to loosen the limbs and the inhibitions.

“I’m into the whole idea of joy,” Huckstep says. “It’s OK to play” to live fully in one’s body, to let go and feel oneself stretch.

Huckstep is inviting participants to pick a favorite poem, explore its emotions and tell a story in movement.

“I’ve been doing dance in various forms all my life, and I love it. And I love poetry,” she says.

“We’ll listen to some recordings of spoken-word poets,” poets whose work is meant to be performed, not just read. “We’ll experiment with different emotions, and how they look on the body.

“It’s more of a movement class than a structured dance class,” that could have as its finale a group activity or individual pieces.

Huckstep herself has danced around the genres, in girlhood ballet classes and then, years ago in college, in a modern dance course. That one stuck with her, through her travels north and west.

Huckstep spent her childhood in Tacoma, then moved to Adna, Lewis County, for high school. Her graduating class was composed of 32 people — and she loved living in a small town.

Next, it was off to Western Washington University in Bellingham to earn a bachelor’s in English, and to the Evergreen State College in Olympia for her master’s.

She married a man who wanted to study marine biology at the University of Alaska; they moved to Fairbanks, and then her then-husband decided to apply for a job with the State Patrol. After he was hired, the couple moved around the state, to Juneau and to Ketchikan.

The marriage didn’t survive, and Huckstep decided to move with her two preschoolers to Port Angeles; her mother Laura Price lives here and works at Peninsula College in administrative services.

“When I moved here, I was apprehensive,” Huckstep admits. She’s a graduate of Evergreen, the liberal arts school with an experimental, nontraditional angle on education.

But Huckstep and her family have found community here. Zeal and Tabby went to the Montessori Garden preschool and had “a wonderful experience,” she says.

Mom has enjoyed similarly stimulating stuff, as she has joined the arts scene.

In 2011, Huckstep joined the annual Reading for Hunger Relief, a fundraiser for local food banks.

Alongside an array of longtime Port Angeles and Sequim poets and teachers, she stepped up to read “Dear Daughter,” her fervent letter to her firstborn. She read it again this past January on the Allé Stage, to a small but loud, appreciative crowd.

For Huckstep, all of this is about connecting. She’s only been performing on a stage for about two years now — and it just feels right.

“I want to find connection between myself and the audience,” she says, “and I want the audience to feel connected to the people there with them.

“I’m a big fan of humor. I want to make them smile.”

Huckstep sees people reaching out for connection, electronically and otherwise — yet not always finding the real thing.

Art connects us, she believes, be it spoken-word performance, music, painting, sculpture or dance.

At the Allé Stage, Huckstep has worked with Tucker on shows weaving together all of the above. Tucker marvels at her fellow artist’s ability to handle the details of bringing in guest musicians while pulling together her own material.

“I first heard her perform through a video she sent me of one of her poems she was reciting,” Tucker adds. “I was struck by her confidence, even though she seems rather quiet on the outside.”

Huckstep says she’s come a long way on that front.

“At 19, I was a beautiful little thing — with no self-confidence,” she recalls. “Now, I’ve had two kids. I’ve got stretch marks,” and plenty of moxie.

Huckstep has embarked upon yet another adventure: a master’s degree in transformative language arts from Goddard College of Plainfield, Vt.

She just finished her first semester of the two-year program in which she is delving into ways poetry and performance can be used with incarcerated populations, both juvenile and adult.

She has already worked with teenagers at the Green Hill Training School, a state facility in Lacey.

“Doing writing workshops and having a venue where people can perform is incredibly powerful,” Huckstep says.

When asked what her hopes are for the coming year, Huckstep gives a quick and wry summary.

“I work full time, I’m in a graduate program, I’m a single parent,” she says. “I hope to keep my sanity.”

Last modified: February 23. 2013 6:22PM
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