Preview: Co-Lab 4

Written by Victoria Jacobs
Coriolis Dance Collective
Photo by Ernie Sapiro
Coriolis Dance Collective, led by Natascha Greenwalt Murphy and Christin Call, taps fascinating emerging and established Seattle choreographers to create new, highly collaborative works with their company. In their fourth season, they’ve invited The Offshore Project—Ezra Dickinson and Rainbow Fletcher of the Can Can Castaway’s—to set new works on them, for an unusual but surprisingly effective collaboration. Co-Lab 4 will feature three dance works: a quartet for the women of Coriolis, choreographed by Fletcher, a larger group piece made by both choreographers, and a duet for Dickinson and Fletcher, all to live music composed by Dylan Rieck and band.

This is the second time Fletcher has made work for Coriolis, though she has been choreographing genre-defying cabaret for the Can Can Castaways in the limited space of the Can Can for years. But for the highly trained and flexible Coriolis dancers, she gets the opportunity to work differently. She incorporates the upper body strength moves and small gestures common in the Castaway’s vocabulary, but she also takes advantage of Coriolis’s mobility and the chance to fill the large area of the Erickson Theater.

Frenchey, Texas, Fritzy, and Helga, a quartet for the limber women of Coriolis, deconstructs a rump-shaking, high-kicking cabaret piece in heels into eerie, haggard abstraction, accompanied by Rieck’s janky version of the classic “Can Can Song.” The characters in the piece strut and snap, flutter their hands, and gesture precisely in movement inspired by Fletcher’s close work at the Can Can. “This piece hits close to home,” Fletcher says. “It could be me in 40 years.” The last work she made for Coriolis had a more serious tone, so for Frenchey she wanted to try something different, a tongue-in-cheek look at the memes of cabaret with the contemporary slant that Fletcher’s imagination brings to the stage, complemented by the virtuosity of the Coriolis dancers.

Marissa Quimby of Coriolis and Johnathan Betchtel
of the Offshore Project
Photo by Ernie Sapiro 
Too many to recount, Fletcher and Dickinson’s group piece for both Coriolis and Offshore dancers, draws inspiration from Charlie Kaufman’s film “Synecdoche, NY” wherein a troubled theater director struggles to create a masterpiece that captures all of New York City in one theater piece. The film ignited the choreographers’ imagination, lending itself to tiny vignettes, layered visuals, and a swelling and receding group esthetic. “Obvious or hidden, we like to have stories that go along with our pieces,” Dickinsonsays. In fact, there is a quirky sensibility, a surprising humor that arises in an unlikely and specific gesture or a broad choreographic motif played out to its extreme. Fletcher says, “Both of us enjoy doing serious work, but we also like to make fun of ourselves and pull that out of people we’re working with.” Dickinson agrees: “We see the strength and humility and comedy to lighten the burden of a situation.”

The Offshore Project is reaching creatively toward work that presents a challenge for them, always trying new approaches and inspirations and pulling the extremes out of one another’s ideas. “We push ourselves in the work we make; we try to make what we don’t normally see,” says Dickinson. That’s a commonality they have with the dancers of Coriolis, who are constantly bringing in different choreographers so they can try performing all different kinds of work.

“We both have extensive dance training, [and] as choreographers, [we’re] able to actually look at our peers and what we see people are making around us,” says Dickinson. “[Fletcher] has an eye for trying to make something that came from a place we all know, but that goes to a different place itself.”

“We keep each other on our toes,” Fletcher agrees.

Co-Lab 4 premieres at the Erickson Theatre this Friday and Saturday, May 11–12 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Offshore-Project/248518293517. For more information on these artists, visit http://www.coriolisdance.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Offshore-Project/248518293517.