Seattle International Dance Festival’s Spotlight on Seattle showcase presented ten solo performances curated by local Seattle dance luminary Amy O’Neal on Tuesday night June 18, 2013. Each work’s quirky flavor clearly represented the diversity of modern dance and solo performance in the city.
One highlight of the evening was this dance., choreographed by Ricki Mason and performed by Mason’s drag persona Lou Henry Hoover. The piece explored the use of caricatures, humor, and drag. Silhouetted, Hoover performed a funky dance with a giant stick of cotton candy to a song about cotton candy, miming and skipping with a light hearted sense of frivolity. Later, however, as Hoover finished telling a perplexing story about drinking and itchy knees, he took an empty beer bottle, held it to his groin and proceeded to masturbate to an epic piece of classical music, using the bottle as his prop. Although incredibly funny, the piece had a serious undercurrent with its direct references to someone struggling with alcoholism. His incredible intensity and commitment truly made the piece a standout of the evening.
Another highlight was Coyote Adapted, choreographed and performed by Paige Barnes. Beginning with a powerful image, Barnes entered wearing all white, her hair long, and a tribal mask of a coyote head protruding from her chest. Barnes danced with the Coyote as her partner swooping, crawling, and lunging through space. Her movements were reminiscent of a tribal ritual or some kind of primal animal. The coyote was particularly successful as a prop when she arched her sternum upwards, making it appear as if the coyote was howling. When she finally removed the mask, she revealed her bare chest covered in red paint—a striking and unexpected contrast to her all white costume that made for a strong final image.
In Aphorisms, Corrie Befort present two avant-garde solos. In the first, Befort rigidly swung her erect arms as if to depict a malfunctioning robot. The music sounded like a mixture of garbled sounds in rewind, adding to the overall sense of broken technology. Next, she walked on stage as an oversized piece of ginger. When sprouts began to grow out from her costume, the piece of ginger got shy and slinked off stage. The metaphors in the piece were bizarre and the connection between the two solos was unclear. Still, the imagery was certainly bold and Befort’s strong performance showed a high level of commitment and precision.
Ruby Lou Blue, choreographed and performed by Devin McDermott, had an incredibly pleasant quality. McDermott crafted a piece that seemed to be satisfied with being simply beautiful. She danced with continuity and a relentless focus that made her movement captivating and pleasurable to watch. Challenging the idea that music and dance are co-dependent, Come. Get. To. This, choreographed and performed by Shannon Stewart, boldly dared to open the piece (and the show) with stillness for the length of an entire song. Finally, in silence, she began to move, proving that pure movement can be captivating even in the absence of music.
Coeurridor, choreographed and performed by Amelia Reeber, was quirky and comedic, a tone further exemplified by her funky costume. Red flowers lined the top of her head in a rooster-like Mohawk. Yet the end of the piece did not carry the same energy and intention that Reeber started with, making the piece drag a bit. Pot Roast, Aprons and June Cleaver choreographed and danced by Dani Long presented a dramatic narrative. The soulful music of Nina Simone combined with Long’s lugubrious movement quality made for an enjoyable work. The overpowering narrative, however, could have been toned down and still achieved a similar message.
Several of the pieces commented on femininity but approached the subject in completely distinctive ways. In Beth Graczyk’s Celia, Graczyk portrayed a fidgety fem doll. Adorned with a flower in her hair and a white lacy dress, she danced in a twitchy, robotic manner. She established a sense of anxiety that opposed the soft, feminine quality of her costume. In contrast, The unbreakable one, choreographed and performed by Alice Gosti, was a testament to raw feminine sexuality. Gosti made the comparison of women to ravenous wolves and purposefully advertised her sexuality and womanhood, a stern look on her face all the while. While Gosti attempted to challenge the view that femininity is soft and quaint, the piece at times came across as an excuse to simply flaunt her sexuality rather than as an artistic expression.
Seconds, choreographed and performed by Jody Kuehner (aka Cherdonna Shinatra), also dealt with femininity. Cherdonna gave a disturbing yet humorous performance as an over-drugged stepford wife drag queen. What started as a comedic storytelling with over-the-top gestures and narrative turned into a creepy horror show with Cherdonna melting and writhing on the stage, her intense glittery makeup exaggerating her contorted facial expressions. She stood back up and, with a smile on her face, announced, “so yah, that was my story,” and walked off leaving the audience perplexed yet satisfied.
Presented as part of the Seattle International Dance Festival, Tuesday’s performance showcased the diversity within the Seattle dance community. All ten artists are local performers and yet their individuality and multiplicity of styles shone; they truly represented Seattle’s complex and unique dance community.