Les Watanabe received his B.F.A in dance from California Institute of the Arts and his M.F.A. from UC Irvine as a Chancellor’s Fellow. After forming his own company inSan Francisco, Mr. Watanabe received invitations to teach master classes at S.E.R.B.A and at dance festivals inGermany,Spain, theNetherlands,ParisandVienna,Austriawhere he was also in residency at Theater An Der Wien. In the Northwest, Les has taught at theUniversityofOregonas Artist-in-Residence,VancouverSchool District(creative movement), NW Conservatory of Dance,Arts & CommunicationMagnetAcademyand currently at Portland Festival Ballet. Known as a superb dance educator, Mr. Watanabe’s student’s have attended, Julliard, Cornish University, Carolina School of the Arts, UC Irvine, Tisch University, Univ. of Oklahoma,Calif.Institute of the Arts, NYU,PurchaseUniv., andMarylhurstCollege.
In addition to his expansive career as a dance educator, Mr. Watanabe has had an illustrious career as a performer. He performed as soloist for such companies as: Donald McKayle (Inner City), Lar Lubovitch, Joyce Trisler, Alvin Ailey II, Sachiyo Ito Japanese Dance Co., Burch Mann Folk Ballet and Peter Goss inEurope.
Performances in theatre and television include: Hal Prince & Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway production of Pacific Overtures, The Who’s Tommy, Leonard Bernstein’s Mass,
Alvin Ailey Presents Duke Ellington CBS special , the original Bill Cosby Shows, Academy awards, Emmy awards, French variety television (1 year) and a one-year national tour with Rita Moreno’s The Act.
As a choreographer, Mr. Watanabe is known for his eclectic and stylistic dynamism. His theatrical credits include: Pajama Game, Journey, , Rhinocerous (PCPA), Midsummer Night’s Dream, Guys and Dolls, Beethoven n’ Pierott (Denver Center Theatre); Judy Garland (Stadstheater-St. Polten, Austria); Gift of the Magi (Cleveland Playhouse). His concert work known for it’s brilliance and exciting innovative juxtapositions has been presented both nationally and in Europe to great acclaim. He was nominated for the American Choreographer’s Award for his work Luna which was set on DJAZZEX in Den Haag and toured Europe for 1 year. His Tablao Flamenco and Milonga were the highlights at the NHSDF. Other works include: Autumn and Accumulation for Portland Festival Ballet, Bonsai and Journey, both made for video, Whispers, Taiko, Drum, Poem commissioned by Univ. of Oregon, Cantes De Ida y Vuelta – presented at Lester Horton Festival in L.A. & commissioned by Donald McKayle for UC Irvine’s 50th Anniversary concert, I Wish & Tango (performed for Oregon Senate) & commissioned by DanceWest. Most recently his ‘Taut’ was performed by Polaris and Portland Festival Ballet.