Written by Kristen Legg
The last installment of Velocity’s Fall Kick-off was presented on September 25, 2011 to a sold-out audience of dancers, dance enthusiasts, and Velocity supporters. With 12 works on the program, this event provided a diverse look at Seattle choreography, from Seattle “institutions” to recent transplants in this vibrant arts community.
There were a number of technical works featuring flawless dancers with apparent ballet training and fierce modern/jazz dancers. Long-time Seattle choreographer, Wade Madsen, presented Divided, a work seen last spring at Full Tilt. Flowing ripples, weaving bodies, and ritualistic-seeming choreography created a dream world on stage that was only broken by the dimming of the lights and fading music. Another Seattle pillar, Timothy Lynch, performed View through a grain of sand, choreographed (and performed in the past) by Jason Ohlberg. While some of Ohlberg’s wide and weighted grace was lost on Lynch, the elegance and exacting cleanliness of Lynch’s performance gave a new and exciting quality to this strong solo work.
Marlo Martin of badmarmar dance, presented a new work entitled It’s Anonymous, in which six powerful performers leapt on, over, and around black IKEA chairs. The dancers all exhibited Martin’s style with obvious, focused technique, while still maintaining individuality. As the music died down, they returned to the chairs and calmed. As these dancers—just moments before dancing their hearts out—suddenly became lifeless, the piece almost seemed to end too soon. However, had there been one last “hoorah” of dancing, the work may have seemed a bit predictable.
Another highly technical work was that of choreographer and performer Iyun Ashani Harrison. Falling In Itstarted with a solo by the choreographer. While a bit lacking in transitions between movements, each step was performed with precision and power. Harrison’s solo transitioned into a tender duet with Louis A. Williams. Where the solo lacked in fluidity, the duet was a constant string of movements, woven together beautifully by the two performers. Rainbow Fletcher’s Pop Drop &Roll was quite entertaining, but perhaps this event was not the right venue for the work. Imagining it performed at the Can-Can, one can see that it would be a show stopper with its cast of 11 talented, beautiful dancers.
There were also a number of works in the evening’s performance that used less “conventional” means of expression through dance. Ezra Dickinson presented an interesting piece that mixed humor with terribly saddening spoken word. Entering in an intricately designed dinosaur mask, Dickinson led the audience to believe Two would be a lighted-hearted character study on reptilian movement. After removing the mask, however, Dickinson proceeded to perform a pained solo, accompanied by his voice speaking to a distant, possibly deranged mother.
Mark Haim presented Arrest At Rest A Test, a confounding (yet brilliant) work. Placing a towel, a vase of flowers, and what appeared to be bon-bons on stage, Haim entered and exited multiple times while Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” played. Each time he entered, he rearranged the bon-bons on the towel, “staging” his own Nutcracker. The petite Haruko Nishimura and long, lean Christian Swenson performed a humorous work-in-progress exploring the power of sound, as well as the amusing nature of size differences. Juliet Waller presented We Got Famous, Then Old, using her own voice and movement to tell the story of life-long love. All three of these light works were in the second act, and sadly overshadowed the act’s opener, Alia Swersky’s Today. The other work that got lost under larger group pieces was Shannon Stewart’s multimedia work The Third Floor, a videoed and live dance piece filled with twisted, contorted movement.
Perhaps the saddest part of the night was Amelia Reeber, winner of Seattle’s first A.W.A.R.D Show!, and Peggy Piancenza’s give me your phantom hand and we will walk this pipeline of light. While verging on intelligent and spot-on performance art, this work in four sections performed throughout the evening (five if a cameo in Haim’s work is counted) quickly became redundant.
The diversity of background and training of each of the performers created an inspiring and fresh range of works. The evening’s host, Scott Davis, said it best: “Velocity keeps this city vibrant.” The final evening of the dance center’s Fall Kick-off proved just that.