VESSEL: A Commemorative Evening for Scott/Powell Performance

Written by Carla María Negrete Martínez

Mary Sheldon Scott + Scott/Powell Performance
 Photo by Peter Mumford
Seattle International Dance Festival continues throughout this week with the Spotlight on Seattle Series. VESSEL was presented Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at Raisbeck Performance Hall as a celebration of choreographer Molly Scott and her legacy through Mary Sheldon Scott + Scott/Powell Performance. Co-presented with VelocityDanceCenterand curated by Executive Director, Tonya Lockyer, the program brought together former company members that have now established themselves as creators in the Seattle arts community and beyond. VESSEL presented various re-workings, homages and interpretations of Scott’s choreography.

Scott/Powell Performance was formed in 1994 by Scott in collaboration with composer Jarrad Powell. Over the past eighteen years, Scott and Powell’s collaborations have produced abstract creations that blur the line between performance art, dance, and music. Their legacy is still vibrant and present today. As Lockyer says, “she’s in the DNA of this community.”It is clear that the Seattlearts community would never have become what it is today without them.

Juliet Waller Pruzan and Jessika Kenney started this memorable evening with When I Was, through which they recreated and augmented the former when I was afraid, (1997). Kenney reinterpreted Jarrad Powell’s composition a cappella, while Pruzan switched from one repetitive walking, embodying a bird jabbing the floor, to wildly shaking her arms as if hitting the walls of a box encompassing her body. The duet conveyed the utmost respect, reverence and love for Scott and Powell.

Belle Wolf accentuated the seductive aggressiveness of Scott’s choreography through Find Again, a self-choreographed solo. A small chair was neatly waiting onstage for Wolf, who filled the dark space surrounding her with beautiful lines of energy abruptly interrupted by recurrent spasms. The distorted strings of Peter F. Wolf’s music emphasized her different points of movement initiation. As a whole, the piece evoked memories of movement vocabulary that Wolf experienced during her time with Scott/Powell Performance.

In Jessica Jobaris’ reinterpretation of Scott’s These Days (from Vessel, 2004) fourteen dancers loudly entered the stage in high heels and evening wear to portray what originally had been a solo created on Jobaris. The men and women faced away from the audience and changed their positions arbitrarily before squatting slowly. They finally faced the public with literal open arms, filing in and off stage. The piece revealed Scott’s quirky sense of humor, as there were comical moments, such as Sruti Desai shaking Amie Baca’s head, or Miranda Chilsom-Sims taking down Ezra Cooper, that dramatically shifted the intriguing monotony of the work.

Amy O’Neal and Michael Rioux each presented an homage to Scott. O’Neal performed hero and muse, a solo to Destiny’s Child. With text displaying on the background, O’Neal illustrated her memories of dancing for Scott. Her peculiar process rehearsal and recurrent motifs, such as using ‘diagonals’ and repetition, and athletic vocabulary came across through O’Neal’s physical and literal monologue. Rioux, on the other hand, presented a video piece called Home/revisited, in which he exhibited himself through various repetitive motions such as the agony of peeling oneself from bed each morning. Rioux’s piece truly demonstrated the extent to which Scott influenced the various crafts of her pupils. By the end of the film it seemed as if Rioux was attempting to lash onto the past and, in the process, realized he could never perform the same twice; an inevitable transformation had occurred during his time with Scott/Powell.

Beth Graczyk & Corrie Befort presented a duet that combined two solos created eight years apart by Scott, and integrated the sculpture of a horse’s head into their performance. In Horses both choreographers incarnated the animal they referenced, yet each had a particular personality. Set to drums that reverberated throughout Raisbeck, Befort depicted the athleticism and drive of a young horse while Graczyk portrayed a calmer but fierce horse. Clad in black dresses, both women’s legs were bare, revealing the muscularity and exquisite technique in their lower body. Coincidentally, both choreographers now direct their own company called Salt Horse, alongside composer Angelina Baldoz.

For the grand finale, Praying Mantis (2002) was remounted and performed by Befort, Alice DeMuizon, Kristin Hapke, Jobaris, Jess Klein, O’Neal, and Ellie Sandstrom. All seven women wore alluring red dresses and entered a square of light, designed by Sara Torres. While the piece referenced the dual aspects of the praying mantis (how it holds its prey as if in prayer), it also exposed the deep relationships that all the performers have established throughout the years. The power and vigor of O’Neal and Sandstrom in a side-by-side duet, and the unique combination of Hapke’s fluid yet dynamic sense of motion alongside Befort’s explosive jumps, were images that stood out powerfully. It was wonderful to watch these dancers sharing the stage once again in this original Scott/Powell creation.

SIDF will continue throughout this week. For a detailed description of performances visit http://www.SeattleIDF.organd to purchase tickets visit Brown Paper Tickets.