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Ellie & Amy O

Amy O'Neal and Ellie Sandstrom are two of Seattle's most prolific contemporary dancers - influencing their peers and the next generation of artists.  Both trained in classical techniques, O'Neal's work is infused with a smooth swag drawing from street and club styles, while Sandstrom blends knife sharp balletic precision with an unbridled raw energy. The two dancers reflect upon a 10-year collaborative journey that helped shape the individual artists they have become. 

(Left to right) Amy O'Neal and Ellie Sandstrom.“I have known Ellie Sandstrom since 1997, and I was immediately attracted to how she moved and attracted to her energy," said Amy O'Neal, a contemporary dance performer, choreographer and teacher who has been based in Seattle for 18 years. “Dancing with [her] feels simultaneously dangerous and like I’m completely at home.” 

“I instantly saw this woman dancing and felt this connection," Ellie said of the dance partner she has worked with for over 10 years. “As an artist and as a dancer, working with her, I think she softens me. She makes me kind of smooth my edges out a little bit.” 

Both women plan to keep dancing, and keep dancing together, for years to come. 

“I am 37 years old… so it’s pretty awesome for me to be the age I am and be able to still be, not only just in the mix, but to be pushing my own limits as an artist, to be pushing my students as a teacher, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon,” Sandstrom said. 

“I want to dance as long as I possibly can, and create as long as I possibly can, and maybe it means that I don’t do certain things anymore, but there are other things that I’m doing that I couldn’t do when I was 20 and that’s exciting," O'Neal said. “So I have someone like Ellie who is always encouraging me, and if we can continue to encourage one another then that helps me to keep going.” 

Sandstrom agreed: “I know I’m going to be 70 years old with her someday, somewhere, kicking my leg high…purely I’m just grateful that Amy O is in my life.” 

Watch some of their work in the video above. 



Aileen Imperial

Aileen Imperial is a multimedia and documentary producer with a commitment to thoughtful observation and engagement. Her work has aired nationally on the PBS American Masters series, PBS NewsHour, and she is a 4-time Emmy winner for feature videos in the Arts, Culture, and Human Interest. Find her on Twitter: @imperealize

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