SIDF Weekend 1: Diversity Thrives As Israel Meets the NW

 

Khambatta Dance Company (Seattle)
Photo by Colleen Cooke
The eighth Seattle International Dance Festival opened at Raisbeck Performance Hall, Friday, June 14, 2013, with the first weekend of their Inter|National Series. The ten days of the festival brings dance to Seattle from all over the world, creating an exciting dialogue of kinesthesia. The opening evening showcased two guest choreographers, Tere Mathern from Portland, Oregon, and Idan Cohen from Israel. Additionally, local choreographer and festival Artistic Director Cyrus Khambatta exhibited a short excerpt of Truth and Betrayal. The evening flowed from improvisation, to clear contemporary lines, to theatrical dance narrative.


Tere Mathern Dance and musicians from Battle Hymns & Gardens in Gather Photo by Meghann Gilligan
Tere Mathern Dance presented Gather: a dance about convergence with live musical performance by Battle Hymns & Gardens. Highlights of the piece included the saxophone players hilariously driving the dancers off stage which evolved into an improvised jazzy musical number. The piece was largely structured with set improvisations that responded to or interacted with the music. It was evident the dancers were responding to the music with a set movement vocabulary, but their sharp sculpting hands and arms became redundant after a while. They played with finding each others’ negative space, sending waves of movement from one to the other, and sharing their bodies’ weight to create complex structures. The visual interaction and energy amongst them seemed limited, however, and the purpose of dancers converging fell short as it appeared that each individual was encapsulated in their own stage. In the more choreographed sections, like when floor work phrases transformed into marvelous leaps off the floor in two separate duets, the intention and performance quality of the dancers became clearer. Perhaps researching the intention of the group as a whole during each individual’s improvised portion, as well as finding an end together, would more fully satisfy the idea of convergence.
The short excerpt of Truth and Betrayal by Khambatta Dance Company began with a spotlight on Meredith Sallee. Provocatively, she faced the audience in a wide stance, undulating her spine and slowly making her way across the stage. Sallee’s technique shone as she alternated her upper body from controlled spinal curves to utter sharp chaos, while staying completely rooted to the floor. With droning electronic music her solo was followed up by Alexandra Madera and Kyle Williams’ duet. The couple exhibited risky partnering with sharp lines and aggressive energy.
Idan Cohen’s Song of a Wayfarer
Photo by Dani Berman
The first evening of the Inter|National Series culminated with Cohen’s solo Songs of a Wayfarer performed by the gorgeous Noa Shiloh to music by Gustav Mahler. Shiloh kinesthetically narrated the wanderer’s voyage in search of home through the metaphor of a bird leaving its nest. Clad in a mustard yellow dress with bird depictions designed by Tal Mer, Shiloh’s elastic limbs melted into and pulled away from the ground with chewy tension—a delicious physicality that has come to be expected from dancers trained at the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Later, the daunting journey translated into uncontrollable trembling in her hands and head, leading her back to the nest on stage. She donned the nest as a mask, seeming to say, ‘home will always travel within us.’ Cohen’s brilliant way of drawing out Shiloh’s vivid emotions proved cathartic. Sadly, this was the only evening Cohen’s work was to be performed.

 

SIDF continues through June 23 with a variety of programs including Spotlight On Seattle June 18-20, and daily dance classes by national and international faculty at the Threshold Dance Institute June 17-23. For more information visit SIDF’s website.