The cast of Union by Iyun Harrison. Photo by Joseph Lambert.
The second weekend of BOOST dance festival continues with a diverse and engaging lineup at the Erickson Theater in Capitol Hill. Keeping a few stellar pieces from last weekend’s show and adding four new pieces, this is a performance not to be missed. The last chance is to see it is tonight, March 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm. Be sure to get there early to get seats in this intimate space!
The show opened with a repeat performance of Iyun Harrison’s Union. The movement had strong classical roots, while the large group formations and intense harpsichord music, by Hendryk Gorecki, evoked a sense of dramatic medieval court dances. Essential to the work were the satin circle skirts (costumes by Nina Reed), which were incorporated beautifully throughout, whether held up in a formal procession or left to fly out in a wild spin. Harrison also used the skirts thematically when a male dancer stripped a female dancer of hers, and she was left vulnerable in only shorts. A manipulative duet ensued between the two playing on themes of gender and power. Eventually the tide turns, culminating in the removal of the male dancer’s skirt. If Harrison continues to produce technical and intelligent modern dance he will certainly be a welcome addition to the Seattle dance scene.
Victoria McConnell and Kenaniah Bystrom presented the second work of the evening, an excerpt from Ode to Exhalation and a Spark. Between the rural pedestrian clothing, the twangy music, and the scriptural poetry, Ode has a well-defined setting in traditional Americana. Repeated gestures evolve to sweeping phrase-work inset with eye-catching details. The mood is anguished but lyrical, and strong religious overtones were reflected in ominous red side-lighting. While each mover was beautiful and interesting as an individual, the differences in timing and emphasis made the heavily used unison less effective and the relationship between the dancers was never made clear. It would have also been nice to see more use of the folding chairs, which were used briefly in the beginning and end of the piece. Overall a beautiful piece with a lot of potential.; this excerpt inspires confidence in the completed work.
BOOST kept its promise to present new arrivals along with choreographic veterans. Eric Aguilar presented Abnormalities of the Thorax: Abdominal Viscera, an ambitious work that has seen great development since its earlier incarnation at 12 Minutes Max. The piece opens on several dancers in almost silhouette doing vaguely gestural movement, clearly each involved in her own world. The initial quirky vintage pop tune is overtaken by a string of long menacing notes as the dancers assemble themselves in formation, displaying the open backs of their costumes in a striking image. Intricate weaving of limbs and elegant creature-like dancing transported the audience into Aguilar’s aesthetic world when, confusingly, the music swelled just as the lights faded. Aguilar has laid the groundwork for continued development; the piece would benefit from a conclusion as strong as the introduction.
Calie Swedberg and Markeith Wiley arrive just in time to lighten things up—in plaid pants and nerd glasses. While it sounds comical, their duet, Make Cents Make Cents, felt simply optimistic and charming. The two performed buoyant partnering work while change (yes—nickels, pennies, dimes, and quarters!) rained down on them from offstage. While Swedberg and Wiley spun, dove, and sometimes stood motionless, the change tossing intensified. It created an environment that was fascinating to watch, although the movement itself seemed to play second fiddle to the delight of shiny flying coins.
Kate Wallich’s Sound… Photo by Joseph Lambert
In the second act, Seattle welcomed back guest artist Jeanette Male to perform her solo, Unseen. This accomplished dancer, along with an intriguing set piece—two prop walls meeting to form a corner—held a lot of promise that unfortunately went unfulfilled. Male chose to do the piece blindfolded, which seemed to limit her vocabulary to slow extensions of her limbs. While there were many beautiful moments, as a whole it lacked spatial and rhythmic interest. A few times she ventured out of her corner, only to quickly retreat. The blindfolded concept can work, but only if Male takes more risks in her dancing.
Kate Wallich presented Sound over taking your ears, volume taking over your body for the second weekend in a row, although this time with a twist. What had been a duet between Wallich and Erica Badgeley now had the addition of a third performer, Zoe Scofield. Wallich has a strong aesthetic perspective, which was seen here with her interspersing of fluid movements, intentional walking, and slow committed journeys. With the glittering synth music and the reflective golden tights, the piece feels like some strange clone world you might discover at the end of a science fiction flick. What made this piece so effective was the extreme attention to detail: the sameness exhibited in each of the dancers. Though she performed admirably, Scofield’s unique stage presence and movement style went unreconciled in the choreography, leaving the audience wondering how she fit into this clone world.
The evening closed out with another teaser from Marlo Martin’s tenSIDES—an evening length work going up April 27 and 28, 2012 at Velocity Dance Center. The excerpt, along with the three others performed in area concerts since September, exhibit the fierce and emotional dancing that Martin has become known for. Martin’s company, badmarmar dance, is composed of ten women, each of whom shines as an individual while performing Martin’s dynamic choreography. This excerpt contained a series of duets playing with tension and release, thrilling partnering, and grounded phrase work. A quartet incorporates the black chairs that are a constant set for tenSIDES—slow motion spills and high flying movement use the chairs creatively, and keep the intensity running high. With each of the excerpts we see a fierce gem, but one wonders in a full length performance, will there be anything to break the tension?
For the third year in a row, BOOST is a huge success and seems to only increase in quality. The production is a wonderful opportunity for Northwest choreographers to show their work, and for dance enthusiasts to experience the latest in the Seattle dance scene. The BOOST tagline demands BE A PART OF THE FURY—to which Seattle will happily oblige.