Sci-Fi Flair in Fire and Ice Collaborations

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With Friday evening’s performance of Fire and Ice at Velocity Dance Center, Serendipity Dance Brigade brought to fruition a collaboration between numerous Seattle area artists. The performance showcased an anthology of dances by Sarah Kathryn Olds, Michael Hoover, Kristen Kridelbaugh, and Karin Stevens with music by the band Girl Trouble and composers Craig van de Bosch, Birch Pereira, Eric Aguilar, Scott Rixe, and DJ Spekulation. The evening featured dancers from Olds’ Serendipity Dance Brigade, and the show swung between charming, mundane, and mesmerizing.

The performance began when the house opened, revealing two living sculptures placed in the downstage corners. Each sculpture, created by fiber artist Antonia Price, consisted of a dancer ensconced in a stretchy white tube of cloth hung from the ceiling. As the dancers, Sean Cormack and Calie Swedberg, undulated and shifted within, the fabric revealed distinct glimpses of anatomy and bones, sharp angles fell away softly, and easy curves became clearly pronounced, creating a whole that was simultaneously rigid and molten. These installations remained onstage through the entire performance and intermission, speaking to the noteworthy stamina of the dancers and forming a fascinating visual foundation for the evening.

Hoover’s Live With No Tomorrow was the most upbeat and athletic piece of the evening. The confident cast of five women ran, jumped, and flaunted their girl power. Though amusing, an interlude where the girls crawled across the stage with bags of chips, canned food, and microwave popcorn seemed tangential, and it was unclear if Hoover intended to make a statement or a joke. The strength of the piece lay in its fun play with solo work. After each woman performed a short solo, the dancers were layered into complementary duets and trios. They finally merged into conglomeration of all five solos in a chaotic counterpoint to the predominantly unison structure.

Fire & Ice
Kristen Kridelbaugh & Sarah Kathryn Olds’s “Tune in/Tune Out” with composers Birch Pereira and Eric Aguilar.
Photo by Michelle Smith Lewis

Tune out/tune in studied the effects of modern society on human connection. Olds and Kridelbaugh, in black jumpsuits and white earbuds, demonstrated great control in their slow and intricate movements as the electronic pulsing of Pereira’s music filled the room. The piece also made powerful use of stillness in one of the most suspenseful moments of the evening. Here was a moment where the continuous motion of the sculptures dampened the effect, and the coordination between the two parts of the performance could have been improved. As the piece concluded, the dancers moved into physical contact with each other, but they did so with hardly any eye contact or emotional dialogue, leaving the audience with the disquieting question of whether “tuned out” society has dulled our capacity to “tune in” and experience intimacy.

Stevens’ Point of Departure was one of the most visually captivating pieces of the evening, thanks in part to unique props created by van den Bosch. The dance opened on a single dancer set apart from the group, her head covered in a helmet of overlapping plastic squares and her body squirming slowly on the ground. A video component accompanied the solo work and subsequent sextet, creating a flashy backdrop of trippy, new-age images that often distracted from the measured, drawn-out movements. The well-trained dancers of the sextet fully embodied and explored the robotic, spacey world created by the video and the arm cuffs that turned their hands into chunky, metamorphic appendages.

Olds tested the risks of using short, repetitive movement phrases as the core structure of Flies among us. Three dancers in striking gold and turquoise unitards crossed the stage in exaggerated slow-motion runs, while a fourth sprinted on and off, pausing onstage periodically to perform a short phrase of long, low lunges. As Flies evolved, some sections left more to be desired, while others displayed captivating and extraordinarily simple movements–a series of relevés with rotating legs and pulsing torsos or a slithery worm-like progression of the bodies across the floor. These sections became hypnotic through their use of repetition.

Fire & Ice
Karin Stevens & Craig van den Bosch’s “Point of Departure”
Photo by Michelle Smith Lewis

Hoover’s personal and humorous Three Men delved into ideas of friends as family. The choreographer’s voice accompanied his organic, often interpretive movement, sharing stories of embarrassment, artistic exploration, and private details illustrating how three men had shaped his human experience. He illustrated the impact of each person through clothing, representing the way people impact our identity. The funny and vulnerable stories, ranging in topic from growing up in a home cluttered with junk to sitting down to pee, made the piece endearing and light-hearted.

Sentinel, also choreographed by Olds, was evocative of a futuristic, war-driven world, made great use of multiple threads of movement and a large cast. A central quartet moved dynamically in defiant unison and threatening duets with each other, while a statuesque trio framed the space by maintaining difficult stances. Five more dancers stood resolutely on the edges, subtly echoing the movements of the central dancers. The whole group’s final section of powerful unison dancing could have benefited from more rehearsal, but a section of tumbling turmoil aptly reflected the ultimate chaos of the universe.

The three-night run of Fire and Ice closes tonight, Sunday, November 17, 2013, at Velocity Dance Center. A majority of the proceeds will be donated to the Kyle Charvat Foundation for young adults with life-threatening cancer. Tickets may be purchased at www.velocitydancecenter.org.