Full Tilt Presents Six Exciting Choreographers

Written by Jacqueline Louise Brock

 Dancers Amy Johnson, Kaitlin McCarthy, and Jamie Karlovich
 in Deborah Wolf’s Time Out of Time
Photo by Joseph Lambert 
In an evening of skilled dancing and engaging choreography, Evoke Productions presented Full Tilt this past weekend, May 18–19, 2012, at VelocityDanceCenter.The program opened with a display of grace and strength in Tom Trimble’s Geppetto’s Daughter. Presented in a simple arc, the piece began with repeated sequences that gradually increased from a slow, defined pace to a more moderate one only to be slowly decreased to a stop. The group of five dancers split into two duets and one solo, focusing largely on the duet placed on a revolving 3-foot circular table. The male dancer lifted and contorted the female dancer into various lifts and holds, allowing her to only touch down a handful of times throughout the duration of the roughly 5 minute piece. This image, in conjunction with the other duet and the beautiful sequence performed by Rachel Grant who scooted, sled, and skated across the floor, gave off the air of meditative beauty. Although the movement was lovely, after all dancing had slowed to a stop, the piece felt like it had ended prematurely, without accomplishing or exploring a concrete objective.

To contrast Trimble’s controlled movement and pace, Iyun Harrison’s dancers in For Christine with Love, flung and tossed every limb with uncensored emotion. The theme that started appearing in most of the works throughout the evening—an image of one dancer standing off against many—started to first emerge in this piece. Four dancers stood still in the light, while a lone figure moved in the darkness on the opposite side of the stage. This standoff continued throughout most of the piece with each dancer taking turns as the soloist. The piece evoked a sense of deep personal resonance for Harrison that the dancers understood as well, consequentially infusing their performances with increased energy and attack within each movement. While there was plenty of abandonment on the dancers’ part, you could still source out the intention of Harrison‘s movement, but maybe not the narrative meaning being implied. The dance could have benefited from finding more moments of tension within the tossing collapses and turns.


Bound, choreographed by Ellie Sandstorm, was an explosion of technique, skill, ability, strength, and partnering that kept the audience riveted from the eerie beginning to the surprising end. The group of diverse, numerous, and powerful performers danced in perfect unison to the steady, overpowering base that, coupled with the dancers’ direct focus and incredible agility, edged on creepy—but in the best way. In one particular moment, the group stood tall and still while dancer Ryan Mather took a seat in a square patch of light. Mather and the group exchanged information, one moving after the other with slight variations. Though the unplanned theme of one versus many was prevalent throughout the evening’s works, this particular moment stood out because the exchange of information and trading of influence between Mather and the remaining nine dancers didn’t seem to follow a set pattern or contain a social narrative, but was instead an entirely physical relationship that took an incredible amount of listening and partner work to pull off. The only somewhat disappointing fact about this dance was that it ended too soon. What was shown, however, could be the foundation for a longer, full-length performance.


Following a brief pause, the audience was treated to Sanctuary,choreographed by Grant (who performed earlier in Trimble’s work) and Annie McGhee. This piece had the audience laughing throughout—a much needed break in the evening from heavy base lines and dramatic tensions. Watching these six lovely ladies tweeting and pecking in all black accented with bits of tulle, hinting toward head and tail feathers, reminded one of an animated Pixar short film where the exaggerated characters struggled to overcome obstacles in the most comic ways. Grant and McGhee accounted for every detail in the development and execution of the birdie characters from the bird-like focus of the dancers to the particular walk of each bird, which required the dancers to hold on to their ankles while walking in relevé. The music of Sanctuary was a soundscape of random words and small chirping that demonstrated Grant’s musical arrangement prowess. There was never an explanation of why six birds were dancing so well together, but it was not needed. One only needed to sit back and enjoy the laughter.


The last piece of the evening was Time Out of Time, choreographed by Deborah Wolf. The work started with the dancers walking slowly toward one lone dancer with downward gazes, hands in their jacket pockets, and dragging their toes. This motif continued throughout the piece intermittently between larger movement phrases. While beautifully executed, Time dragged on at a pace that never quite reached an exciting level. The expression, twiddling one’s thumbs, came to mind as the dancers continually paced and dragged along their toes. Pacing aside, the spacing and staging showed through as a real skill of Wolf’s.


The repeated themes and soundscapes were a bit tiresome by the end of the evening, which felt more like one continuous piece, rather than six different choreographers presenting separate works. This repetition of choreographic choices might say something more about the sharing of trends in the Seattle dance community rather than the producers at Evoke Productions, but it could also indicate that when programming an evening such as this, producers should keep a look out for choreographers like Grant and McGhee who aren’t afraid to part from the path and shake a couple tail feathers. Altogether though, Full Tilt brought together six extremely talented and creative choreographers as well as a highly skilled group of dancers to create an enjoyable evening overall.