Kim Tuttle is almost a Gainesville native. She moved to Gainesville at age 4. Her dad was a singer and president of the Gainesville Gas Company and her mom was a dancer and owned Pofahl Studios. So naturally, Kim started dancing as a preschooler.
Her passion for dance eventually led to a lifetime’s work as artistic director of Dance Alive National Ballet (DANB), designated as the State Touring Company of Florida for 35 consecutive years. The company’s 12 resident dancers have performed Kim’s choreography in 17 states and the Caribbean.
Writes her friend Stella Sung, UF professor of music: “Kim is a constant support and inspiration. I have written the music for many ballets to which she has set choreography and movement and I am constantly amazed and awed by her extremely high standards of excellence and artistry. From short dances to full-length story ballets, Kim’s far reaching talent is expressive and innately beautiful.”
Kim teaches classes in the mornings and afternoons — more than 200 children take dance at Pofahl Studios — and also conducts rehearsals each day. She often tours with the ballet on the weekends.
“My job is to inspire people,” Kim says, which isn’t hard because she loves dance so much. “The studio in which you work is like a temple. We like each other and we get along and support each other, and our dancers flourish. I have huge respect for our dancers and what they do and the work it requires, the familial sacrifices and the physical effects.”
Kim learned how to create a nurturing artistic environment while serving on the staff of the Stuttgart Ballet and as ballet mistress for the Zurich Ballet in her 20s. She attended UF on full scholarship and was staff pianist for the Department of Music. She continues as a chamber pianist and specializes in accompanying singers. She has created over 100 ballets. She wrote a children’s book, “Lady Bug: Action Hero,” which became the well loved children’s ballet of the same name. Kim has received three choreographic fellowships from the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs.
Kim is also a passionate advocate for the arts: “Art is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Art tells us who we are.”
She has worked toward creating a partnership with Art of the Olympians and DANB, entitled “Mission Olympus.” Sanctioned by the Olympic organization, this ongoing partnership is the first of its kind. The AOTO gallery is located in the Al Oerter Center for Excellence in Ft. Myers.
Kim and her sister Judy Skinner were the recipients of the Nancy Smith Award given by the Florida Dance Association in 2000 in recognition of their outstanding leadership and excellence in dance in Florida. Kim and Judy run DANB together.
Kim’s longtime partner is Tim Heflin, Dance Alive’s principal dancer until his recent retirement. When Kim’s not at work, which isn’t often, she loves to read — biographies are favorites — and go to the movies.