AC Petersen at the Richard Serra Exhibit
Richard Serra Exhibition Forged Rounds, at Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2019. Photo by Steve Bussmeir
Composer, Librettist, and three female vocalists standing in front of a piano
CURRENTS from L: Jeremy Berdin, AC Petersen, vocalists Caitlin Sarwono, Isabelle Bushue, Sandra Waters
AC Petersen, Voice Artist
White Like Me
From White Like Me: Dairy Farmers and Samurai, choreographed by AC Petersen From left: Kara O’Toole, Deb King. Fumi Murakami. Photo by Julia Healy. Produced by Northwest Asian American Theatre.
Silk Road
From Silk Road collaboration with artists AC Petersen, Erin Shie Palmer, Susie Kozawa, additional music by Garrett Fisher. Produced by House of Dames, Consolidated Works, and AC Petersen Dance.
Silk Road
From Silk Road collaboration with artists AC Petersen, Erin Shie Palmer, Susie Kozawa, additional music by Garrett Fisher. Produced by House of Dames, Consolidated Works, and AC Petersen Dance.

Librettist / Lyricist / Playwright

Seattle-based choreographer, playwright/lyricist/librettist and voiceover artist

Noted by the Seattle Times as "one of the most independent of Seattle's independent choreographers," Petersen’s storytelling is inspired by everyday work, ritual, and old movie musicals

Librettist AC Petersen and Composer Jeremy Berdin present a 15-minute operetta, Currents, following three Japanese American women from Bainbridge Island through time and place.

From a 1937 departure of a young Nisei/Kibei (second-generation Japanese American born in the U.S. but educated in Japan) on a ship to Japan, to working in Japan’s World War II “Balloon Bomb” factory, to a mother and young daughter’s arrival and incarceration at Minidoka War Location Center in Idaho, this impressionistic arc of five songs reveals emotion and ties of family members torn apart by choice and by force, and trapped on both sides of the Pacific Ocean during World War II.

April 11-13, 7:30 pm at 18th and Union's 2024 Spring Shot Festival, three weekends of performances of a variety of genres.


Voice Artist

She has been a volunteer at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) since 1990, delivering live readings of newspapers and live-to-tape interviews with authors of new books via the now-defunct Evergreen Radio Reading Service. She currently narrates stories about Japanese American experiences for WTBBL.

She voiced an episode of UW360 about the Seattle Camera Club, a group of Japanese photographers producing work before WWII. 


My One Percent, an original musical, with book and lyrics by Petersen and music by Lansing Grey, has received two staged readings and an excerpt performed at Centerstage Theatre's  (Federal Way) First Impressions: an afternoon of new works; and SIS Productions Represent! Works by playwrights of color.

An old-fashioned, intimate musical with heart and humor, My One Percent  takes place in 1986 as a determined Polli boards the train from Iowa to Virginia to scatter her mother’s ashes and uncover the identity of her biological father. From musically emotional good-byes to lively and sweet confessions of love, Polli encounters old friends, new foes, and a shy botanist.  Details at New Play Exchange (NPX) (membership required)


  • Silk Road  highlighted stories of immigrant women in the sewing trades. Produced by House of Dames, Consolidated Works, and AC Petersen Dance. Collaborative artists Erin Shie Palmer, Susie Kozawa, with additional music by Garrett Fisher

“ . .  poetic and sensitive performance . . .at times the border between art and reality is blurred.” - Charles Mudede, Seattle Weekly


  • voICE  performed at opening at A.I.R. Gallery in New York, Sculptures by Louise McCagg, music by Garrett Fisher


  • Moon in the Bucket (the original production) based on the Noh play Matsukaze (Wind in the Pines) produced by AC Petersen with music by Garrett Fisher at Nippon Kan Theatre


  • Chado / Tea Party  explored both western and Japanese (Urasenke) tea ritual, presented by NWAAT (Northwest Asian American Theatre); Vancouver B.C.'s Powell Street Festival
    • an unexpected combination of humor and gravity -- a dramatic spectrum that dance rarely permits itself.” - David Lyman, Seattle P-I


  • Golden Section  performed at Sumatra Dance Festival; NWAAT
    • “Petersen wields understatement the way other choreographers do pyrotechnic movement. And in an age dominated by bombast and self-importance, such modesty yields an eloquence that often speaks louder than the loud.” - David Lyman, Seattle P-I


  • The Girls of St. Madeleine’s, inspired by the Madeline children’s books. With composer Garrett Fisher produced by AC Petersen Dance at Broadway Performance Hall
    • “. . . succinct scenes and seamless transitions demonstrate a more mature grasp of storytelling. - Chris Kaufman, Seattle Weekly.


  • Falling is Best  Bumbershoot Arts Festival; Dance on Capitol Hill’s Choreofest


  • Ozeki, a collaboration with Seattle Kokon Taiko explored Sumo ritual. Produced and presented by On the Boards
    • “Her work is precise, well-crafted and compelling.” - R.M. Campbell, Seattle P-I


  • Urban Goddess  produced by Allegro! at Broadway Performance Hall; On the Boards, New City / New Dance series; D-9 Dance Collective


  • Voice of the Heart, Voice of the Hand produced by Allegro! at Broadway Performance Hall; excepts performed at Men in Dance; Full Tilt productions; Bellevue College Moving Company
    • “. . .part Catholic girls academy, part Japanese teahouse.. . They perform half a dozen ritualistic exercises, all compelling and beautiful” - Jean Lenihan, Seattle Weekly


In the early years, Petersen performed in works by Pat Graney and Gina Gibney, influencing her own choreographic vocabulary which is created in collaboration with the dancers, drawing from human or “pedestrian” movement and ritual.

Petersen has been awarded grants from 4Culture King County, Seattle Arts Commission, and the Bossak/Heilbron Foundation; and residencies at the Whiteley Center at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

She has created movement for plays, including Letters to a Student Revolutionary  at NWAAT.

Contact me with questions, comments, commissions, or to be notified of future stagings.


      AC Petersen

  • is Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) and fourth-generation Danish-Irish, and grew up in Seattle and on Tachikawa Air Base on the fringes of Tokyo 


  • has a B.A. in architecture from the University of Washington, apprenticed with an architect and interior designer renovating historic theaters in Seattle, Tacoma, LA and Pasadena; and an engineer who designed the often-photographed “Rainbow Bridge” in La Conner, Washington


  • worked as a producer and publicist at On the Boards, facilitating over five years of Twelve Minutes Max showings at the Washington Hall venue. She was a “matchmaker” for collaborative artists for NWAAT’s international collaboration program funded by the Ford Foundation


  • was founding co-editor (along with Kara O’Toole and KT Niehoff) of DanceNet, a monthly print newsletter for the Seattle-area dance community from 1990-2000


  • studied modern dance with Daniel Chick at Dance Center Seattle, ballet with Hannah C. Wiley at the University of Washington, and Louise Nikitins; and jazz with Mark Kane, Bill Monroe and Suzanne Duckworth; studied voice with Phyllis Petersen (no relation)