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Soleil Chappelle: Dancer, dance educator and massage therapist

CDN's weekly community profile

Soleil Chappelle focuses on contemporary dance technique, and improvisation during their classes. Chapelle believes dance plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy state of mind. (Jack Warren/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

Soleil Chappelle (they/them)

Age: 33

City: Bellingham

Lived here for: Nearly 5 years

Originally from: Seattle

Notable: Dancer, dance educator and bodyworker at Bodyswells, their massage therapy practice

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing, in reality, since I was a baby. My mom was a dance teacher and had taught a parent-infant class and I was the infant in her class and I’ve been dancing ever since. 

When did dancing move from a passion to a profession for you?

It’s odd to say, but even as a child, I considered myself a professional dancer because I grew up in a performance company, two different performance companies: one that was adults performing for children (Tickle Tune Typhoon) … and the other was Kaleidoscope Dance Company, which was children performing at a fairly professional level.  

So, I don’t think I ever really felt that shift into becoming a professional dancer. But I went to college for performance and started teaching and started creating a performance collective right afterward. That’s when that technical shift happened. 

What is the dance community in Bellingham like?

The dance community in Bellingham is incredibly rich for how small it is. I was so impressed when I moved here. Seattle has an excellent dance community, and our proximity to Canada is excellent and the presence of Western here has just created a really beautiful, vibrant dance community here. Bellingham Repertory Dance [where they dance and teach] has been going for a really long time. I think we’re in our 18th year right now. The consistency of the dance, particularly in contemporary modern dance, is really unique and special. 

Tell me about your business Bodyswells and how you got into massage therapy?

Bodyswells is the name that I chose because it is something that applies to both my dance practice and my bodywork practice. As a dance artist, I always knew I would need something to be a day job. I’ve always been drawn to massage and I’m just very fascinated with the body. When I discovered craniosacral therapy, I knew I found something that I would want to do for the rest of my life. In my practice, I use mostly subtle massage forms and craniosacral particularly works with the fascial system (the connective tissue that surrounds every part of your body), which is something I’m fascinated with in both dance and in bodywork. 

What is so special about dance to you?

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how when I haven’t been dancing, it feels like there’s this charge that’s building in my body, like a coil that’s winding up. And then when I start to dance, I go through this unwinding process of just discovering all the things that have been building upWhat I love about dance is that it connects from body to body, and you don’t necessarily have to have a meaning or a story in order for that to resonate between people. 


“Faces in the Crowd” is published online and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “Faces in the Crowd” subject? Email us at

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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