Stitch-ing Together the Seattle Dance Scene

Written by Mariko Nagashima


In rehearsal for Lilianna Koledin’s Approximately Me
Stitch Movement Collective brought together an eclectic blend of dance-makers in its first weekend of performances, May 25–26, 2012, at Velocity Dance Center. The evening was to feature work by the four co-founders of Stitch, as well as several others from various pockets of the Seattle scene.

An all-female quartet opened the show with Girl.Hulk., the latest iteration of Soto Style, the trademark blend of funk, popping, and contemporary movement concocted by choreographer Maya Soto. The piece delivered as much as the title offered: think the Incredible Hulk with estrogen flexing in sports bras, tattered leggings, and even poison green tongues that the dancers offered to the audience in scathing hisses. Though an imaginative twist to the classic comic, the piece continued too long after exhausting all possibilities within the chosen theme. Soto is, of course, master of her own style, a barely contained tension creating a through line in her every movement, but Danico Bito also held her own with a ferocious intensity, perfectly fitting of the piece.

In a different vein altogether was Lilianna Koledin’s Approximately Me, an elegant duet performed by Kara Burrows and Jessica Schroeder. Schroeder began curled on the floor, being gently rolled by Burrows; this movement unraveled the bolt of shimmery gold fabric spooled around Schroeder’s waist and established a square parameter. Identically clad in russet shirts and skirts, the two seemed to be separate halves of a singular identity, one part constrained by their limitations, the other questing far beyond them. The duo even danced as if they were one, completely in synch with lovely moments of release and breath.

Next, Kristen Legg performed a self-choreographed solo and I without wanting… In only a white dress shirt and briefs Legg gave off an air of vulnerability but danced with empowerment. A captivating performer, she was perfectly attuned to the music, a convoluted jazzy composition by Roy Haynes. Specific cymbal crashes and drumrolls elicited sneaking looks over her shoulder, reaching jumps, and smooth somersaults. Through repeated arm gestures she appeared to struggle with both desiring and refusing something external to herself and a simultaneous frustration at the duality.

Unfortunately, Wiley’s charming duet with Calie Swedberg, Make Sense Make Cents, seen earlier this year at BOOST dance festival, was not performed Friday evening due to unforeseen circumstances. Hopefully, audience members will be able to see it Saturday night.

Passerby, by choreographer Alyza DelPan-Monley, featured four women in pedestrian clothing accompanied by the soothing melodies of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner. While no real relationships emerged between the four, they all moved with a lovely sense of tenderness, most notably Lorraine Lau. A motif of walking altogether in small clumps and then breaking into individual phrases seemed to reinforce that the four were simply sharing the space at the same moment in time. They passed each other both physically and temporally, finally leaving each to their own kinetic musings.

Stitch co-founder Chris McCallister presented Slick, a duet co-choreographed and performed by Meredith Sallee. The two made excellent use of Velocity’s slippery wood floor, repeatedly sliding into positions in their stocking feet. This effect, combined with their all-black attire and intent focus on the downstage corner, created a sense of stealthy espionage. From their initial dash across the stage, all the choreography followed the same diagonal trajectory; they rarely strayed from this line, but built tension by amping up the slides back and forth as the insistent beats of Alva Noto increased. A highly polished piece, everything was performed with a clean exactitude, all the way through to the surprise ending.

RIDE, a solo choreographed and performed by another Stitch co-founder Elissa Eskridge, felt like water slowing rising to boil with the music building the tension more often than the movement. This raucous music, by Keith White of This Bitch Don’t Fall Off, began in the dark, the lights rising imperceptibly to reveal Eskridge slouched on a purple loveseat. The piece continued with hip hop moves, sinewy lines, and various sprawling on the floor as if in a drug-induced stupor. Really more about persona than choreography, Eskridge showed her swagger with a too-cool cockiness, continuing to dance as the music and lights faded in an anticlimactic ending.

The evening ended with Geoffrey Johnson’s Vantage Point. Wearing simple grey clothing, the ensemble of six moved through fairly stereotypical modern dance vocabulary. Parallel side battements, lunges, and circling arms proliferated in the diffuse blue light. These motifs were broken up only by the occasional, and inexplicable, jittery fluttering hand. Though architecturally strong with pleasing shifts in formations, the piece felt rather dry as a whole, and was performed with a certain detachedness. The finale was the highlight, when the whole group sped up their phrases in a robotic frenzy as the music escalated before abruptly hitting a final shape.

With a diverse array of offerings, Stitch Movement Collective has assembled a satisfying show. Though some were more successful than others, every piece brought something different to the stage. This particular combination of artists can be seen again tonight, May 26, at Velocity. Stitch is also producing a second weekend of shows with a different line-up June 1–2. The second weekend will feature works by Laara Garcia, Rachel Grant, and Amy Johnson, as well Eskridge, McCallister, and Johnson again. Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/245504.