CONVERGE: dance festival, presented by Sapience Dance Collective, is Seattle’s newest dance festival, joining the ranks of BOOST, Chop Shop, NW New Works, and Seattle International Dance Festival, just to name a few. CONVERGE premieres this weekend, May 2-3 at Velocity Dance Center and, like any strong festival, aims to serve several purposes. Dance festivals generally provide exposure for emerging choreographers by programming them together with more established groups. Such eclectic billing not only gives audiences a broader experience, it also provides them with a glimpse at new artists who they might not have risked seeing a full show by. Perhaps most beneficial for the artists though, is that festivals tend to disperse the work of producing a show, allowing choreographers to focus on their pieces without the added pressure of production details. CONVERGE hopes to accomplish all of these things, and if that’s not enough, it might even make you appreciate your mother a bit more—for its inaugural year, CONVERGE revolves around the theme of motherhood.
Now in their fifth year as a company, Sapience Dance Collective conceived of CONVERGE as a way to give back to the community. “We started talking about how it’s still really challenging in Seattle for artists to get their work produced,” said co-Director Amy Weaver. Having successfully produced their own works for the last five years the trio of co-Directors (Weaver, Sarah Seder, and Lilah Steece), knew each other’s strengths and felt that the next step was to help present other’s work. “As a company we’re growing up. We’re able to support each other, and I feel like we’re taking it to the next level, and we’re opening it up to supporting people in our dance community. So we thought why don’t we make it a festival every year, and we can give that gift.”
The motherhood theme was born out of Weaver’s desire to create a piece reflective of the renewed appreciation for her mother that she gained from working as a nanny for over a decade. In tandem to that experience, many of her dancer peers were having children, and “I just got started thinking of what I know from being a nanny and the energy and the focus that children take. [But] also the joy and creativity that they bring to life. I wanted to make a piece that had my dancer friends that have kids, and they could all get together and talk about what it’s like to be a mom.” As dancers, these women were already highly in touch with their bodies, and Weaver wanted to explore the experience of having a life grow inside of them. “Dancers are so creative with their bodies and this is like another form of expression. Life and creativity from their body.” Furthermore, bringing their children to rehearsal facilitated that social connection to dance that mothers often miss when they don’t have time to take class regularly. Having children in rehearsal “definitely changed how the piece evolved. You have the frustration of having children there, but the beauty of having them there. And also the relationship and the tenderness and the nurturing. All of those things were happening as it was being created.”
When Wever approached Seder and Steece with the idea for her piece, the other co-Directors were on board. Seder had a been wanting to craft a work based on a recorded interview of her centenarian grandmother’s experience growing up in South Africa, and Steece, who’s pregnant, was interested in creating a dance film about her experience as a mother-to-be. Thus, the motherhood theme was born. In addition to the co-Directors’ work, other artists on the bill include Wade Madsen, whose work uses actual voice messages from the three women’s mothers, as well as Sarah Kathryn Olds, Karin Stevens, Katy Hagelin, and Mari Engel.
Sapience plans to continue expanding the festival over the next few years, with the hope of presenting more relatively unknown choreographers. And while the motherhood umbrella stemmed organically from the co-Directors’ current choreographic interests, they’re not tied to having a theme each year. Though the show is the weekend before Mother’s Day itself, the group of dances are meant to be conversation starters, allowing audiences to reflect on their relationships with their own mothers. Perhaps it’s better having the show a weekend early—it leaves just enough time to get those Mother’s Day cards in the mail.
CONVERGE: dance festival plays this Friday, May 2, at 8 PM and Saturday, May 3, at 7 and 9 PM at Velocity Dance Center. More information and tickets are available here.