Longtime director of Northwest Tap Connection receives MLK Medal of Distinguished Service
StoryOver the last two decades, Melba Ayco has been bringing rhythm and wisdom to young people throughout South Seattle. Ayco’s devotion to all forms of dance was recognized today by Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Gossett when he presented “Ms. Melba” with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.
“For over three decades, Ms. Melba has been a servant of the people,” said Gossett. “She has used her talents and love of children to give them access to the arts, thus, continuing to build Dr. King's ‘beloved community’ in this region.”
Ayco has worked for the Seattle Police Department for over three decades, but her passion is dance. Since the 1990’s—first as the Program Director and Artistic Director at TTapp Central, and now as the Founder and Artistic Director of Northwest Tap Connection—Ayco’s mission has been to provide a space of support and respect for artists of color to create artistic works “relevant to our past, present and future.”
Race and Social Justice is the foundation of Northwest Tap Connection. Its mission is inclusive of providing quality dance and job opportunities to under-served communities, but also to raise a generation of socially conscious artist that product work that foster change. The studio has been committed to the support of Artists of Color through employment, use of their music through tribute shows and the history of their contributions to the Art World.
For thousands of students—from kids just out of diapers who are part of the fabled “10 o’clock” class, to young people who have performed on Broadway—Ayco has been there as teacher, mentor and friend.
Ms. Ayco has choreographed for Seattle Theatre Group, the Northwest Folk-life Festival, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Seattle Children Museum, and MoPop (Experience Music Project). Her community service has been recognized by the City of Seattle, as a recipient of the 2009 Mayor’s Art Award for outstanding leadership, and by Africatown, which recognized her as a Community Builder earlier this year.
Ayco is one of nine citizens living across King County whose contributions to their community echo the incredible selfless leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK Medal of Distinguished Service recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in communities across King County.