Preview: An Insider’s Peek at Redd Legg Dance’s “Teknique + 1”

Written by Carla María Negrete Martínez 
(Photo: Redd Legg Dance company members rehearsing
Four Forlorn Women Brandish Their Scars)
“Change of plans.  Add a sauté in fourth to start running, then go into the fake beginning. The Christina/Carla duet will be later in the piece.  Also, we’ll switch the duet order around; do the canon bit first, then the fourth position stuff that used to start the dance.” Kristen Legg is off and running with her quirky work. Her eyes gleam with energy and hunger for speedy balletic vocabulary from her dancers, her “redd leggs.” Mother may I… is her newest creation of which only an excerpt will be shown at her upcoming show, “Teknique + 1,” at Broadway Performance Hall on December 3–4. The piece seems to be the essence of Legg’s “Teknique” with something more, her definition of “+1.”
Redd Legg Dance will perform two evening shows plus a shortened matinee, which will be principally intended for children. The company, currently in its fifth performing season, has brought dance to a broader audience in Seattle, making it specifically accessible to today’s youth through humorous, touching, discordant, and, at times, poignant choreography.
(Carla María Negrete Martínez rehearsing Cantica Renati)
The dancers, now rehearsing for 15 weeks, have adapted to Legg’s swift teaching pace that follows her fast-tempoed, fragmented choreography that, unlike classical ballet, breaks fluidity. One of the pieces on the program, Babyhead Fear Manicure, requires comical attitude from her dancers. They begin the piece with what Legg refers to as monster phrase, followed by muscle man phrase, ballerina runs, and cricket. Every movement is an impulsive idea that dissolves immediately after execution. Steps unrelated to one another and requiring dramatic weight changes demand that the “redd leggs’” be prepared for anything.
“Ha ha ha, suckers,” says dancer, Laura Peterson, during The Finish Line, a definite “+1.” The piece is a competitive two-section race comprised of text and choreography. Fueled with imagination and humor, the dancers can’t help but laugh during the first full run.
Seriousness returns to the rehearsal space with Four Forlorn Women Brandish Their Scars and Cantica Renati. The former is an aggressive quartet to Astor Piazzola’s extravagant tango. Four independent and courageous women portray their marriage stories through repetitive athletic phrases. Cantica Renati, on the other hand, abstracts life and mortality. “This is by far the most difficult music to count,” says dancer, Karena Birk, who is in her fifth season with the company. Legg must count the complicated phrasing “3, 8, 4, 4, 15” for the dancers, who are used to counting even phrases. This unconventional musical patterning lends itself to her fragmented movement phrases. Does Legg’s choice of music inform her movement or does her movement inform the music choice? That will be for the audience to decide.
“Teknique +1” can be seen December 3rd and 4th at 8 pm and December 4th at 1 pm at Broadway Performance Hall. Tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets.