Centrum’s Michelle Hagewood, left, and Robert Birman are collaborating with Madrona MindBody Institute co-owner Renee Klein, center, to expand use of the Madrona building at Fort Worden State Park. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Centrum’s Michelle Hagewood, left, and Robert Birman are collaborating with Madrona MindBody Institute co-owner Renee Klein, center, to expand use of the Madrona building at Fort Worden State Park. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Centrum to stretch out at Madrona MindBody Institute

Pandemic pushes change for arts organizations at Fort Worden

PORT TOWNSEND — Through this pandemic spring, summer and fall, people have gone to Madrona MindBody Institute to dance, stretch, meditate and pedal spin bikes. Meanwhile, the owners looked with worry at their finances.

In-person sessions with 10 or fewer participants — the limit during this recovery phase — plus a slate of virtual classes don’t sustain the 6,000-square-foot building at Fort Worden State Park. To add to the injury, all those people who used to go to Madrona’s workshops and retreats have ceased traveling.

“We started having conversations about what our options were,” said Renee Klein, co-owner with Anneli Molin-Skelton and Aletia Alvarez.

If the pandemic drought continued to deepen, the institute, opened 14 years ago, would have to either close or move to a much smaller space.

Those were painful prospects.

“We love our building,” Klein said. “It’s really a sanctuary. We have this enormous ballroom, 2,200 square feet.”

The three looked to a neighbor: Centrum. In addition to its internationally-known music workshops and festivals, the 48-year-old nonprofit organization hosts artists in residence, creative people who spend a week or a month making new work, immersed in the fort’s natural and historic surroundings.

Madrona and Centrum have much in common. Both seek to support artists in all forms, from modern dance to sculpture to blues and jazz.

Turns out they will make good roommates. The two have entered into a formal agreement to begin sharing the building in November.

For Madrona, it means survival; for Centrum, it means more room through which more artists can stretch out.

“The main focus in the short term, because of the pandemic, is to expand our residencies at Madrona’s space,” said Centrum executive director Robert Birman.

He and Michelle Hagewood, director of the residency program, envision artists in various disciplines using the building. Potential residents range from dancers, theater artists and choreographers to “visual artists that require movement in their work,” Birman said.

Imagine an abstract painter like Jackson Pollock having the space to dance with the muse, light streaming through Madrona’s wide windows, he added.

At the same time, the institute’s own wellness classes, open to the public, will go on. The schedule at MadronaMindBody.com lists 10 classes online and 10 in-person in the ballroom.

That open floor, Klein noted, has ample social-distancing space for the maximum 10 participants.

Madrona’s battery of safety protocols are also on the website while information is posted on the front of the building, No. 310 at the fort, and available by phoning 360-344-4475.

“We have spin [indoor cycling], yoga, Nia fusion fitness and conscious dance,” said Klein, adding she’s heard from people who call the online classes a lifeline; others come for the in-person energy in the ballroom.

Klein and her team of teachers hope to keep the mix and add more during the winter.

A free indoor-walking class starts next Wednesday, and it will continue “through the dark months,” Klein added.

Participants age 60 and older are invited to sign up weekly for the 45-minute walking sessions at 11 a.m.

For its part, Centrum is reinventing the way it hosts workshops around Fort Worden.

“We’re making an investment in technology that will allow us to broadcast from 10 different locations,” Birman said.

Madrona will be one: a turnkey broadcast space for lectures, performances and classes.

Yet winter will be relatively quiet.

Hagewood will move her office into one of Madrona’s smaller rooms while artists in residence continue their work.

As for Centrum’s writing, music and dance workshops and events, usually open for registration in November, signups should begin some time after the start of 2021 at Centrum.org.

“There’s too much uncertainty” in these next couple of months, Birman said.

He and Klein look forward to seeing Madrona — and the whole fort — pulsing with voices, dancing feet and live music.

“This partnership allows us to bridge to that day,” Klein said, “when our building will be filled with people again.”


Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.

More in Entertainment

"Seahorse," by Pat Herkal is among the textile artworks on display at the Northwind Art Grover Gallery.
Undersea exhibit showcases textile arts

Textile artists’ varied views of the Salish Sea are… Continue reading

North Olympic Library System scheduled book discussions for April

The North Olympic Library System will continue online book… Continue reading


CAPTION: Trevor Contreras will address the Quimper Geological Society on Saturday
Geology, carving lecture slated in Port Townsend

Trevor Contreras will present “The Geology and Art of… Continue reading

Port Townsend Marine Science Center Executive Director Janine Boire plans to welcome the public back to the center starting Saturday at the Fort Worden-based aquarium. The center will be open Saturdays and Sundays with reservations beginning this weekend. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Townsend Marine Science Center partially reopens

Weekend visits will require reservations for on-site visitors

Clarinetist Jonathan Doyle, complete with an aerosol-masking instrument cover, jazzed up the Haller Fountain in downtown Port Townsend in the first “Buskers on the Block” gig. The series will showcase local musicians Thursdays and Saturdays through May. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Free music series has begun in Port Townsend

Buskers scheduled through May in Main Street program

Friends of the Sequim Library to hold book sale

The Friends of the Sequim Library will… Continue reading

Ballet Victoria — whose dancers have included Julia Jones Whitehead and Tymin McKeown, seen in 2019 — is among the dozens of performing ensembles to appear in the 2021 Juan de Fuca Festival, a blend of in-person and virtual shows May 28-31. Passes for the virtual festival are on sale now. Tickets for in-person shows will be available later this month. For information about the festival and its COVID-19 safety protocols, see JFFA.org under the Festival menu; the Juan de Fuca Foundation office phone is 360-457-5411. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Festival passes on sale

whose dancers have included Julia Jones Whitehead and Tymin… Continue reading

“Passing Cloud,” by Sydni Sterling, is featured in Artist Showcase 2021.
Twenty-one artists featured in Artist Showcase 2021

Northwind Art presents Artist Showcase 2021, the gallery’s first… Continue reading

Virtual home tour tickets on sale now

Tickets are on sale now for the 23rd Annual… Continue reading

Margaret Randall
Poet, photographer, essayist, activist Margaret Randall to read works

Margaret Randall — poet, essayist, oral historian, translator, photographer… Continue reading

Keith Rasmussen is sprucing up The Keg & I in Chimacum for its reopening — with live music on the back deck — this Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Doyle and Dwyer set to enliven Keg & I deck

Dancing to the live, in-person music this weekend at the… Continue reading