A Duet of Duets at SIDF

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An annual event bringing talent from around the world, this year’s Seattle International Dance Festival began its Inter|National Series performances on June 11 at the Raisbeck Theater with work from two East Coast collaborations. Both duets, the two pieces each took a different approach to working with the concept, revealing the possibilities that can be found in the pairing of two dancers.

Derek Cresecenti and Shadou Mintrone

The evening opened with TKO by Derek Crescenti and Shadou Mintrone, two former members of Spectrum Dance Theater now residing in New York City, who also performed the work. It began with two fallen chairs onstage, setting the scene for the work’s underlying drama. The dancers quickly shed their formal wear until they were in undergarments, suggesting a reveal of not only their bodies but their inner monologue as well. The music shifted between an old-timey track that emphasized the 50s element of the costuming, a piano score that brought forth intimacy, and an energetic drum piece that drove the anxious and emphatic movement. The duo’s partnering and angular movement was sharp and purposeful, not to be overshadowed by the costuming or music. There was also a subtle element of humor to the piece, with Mintrone smearing her red lipstick on Crescenti’s body. Drifting in and out of the different types of music, Crescenti and Mintrone cleverly created a relationship between their characters and the clothing they were quick to remove. Eventually, the two haphazardly put their outer layers back on and coming together in a hurried, comical manner to end the piece.

Doppelganger Dance Collective
Doppelganger Dance Collective, photo by Marc Pilaro

Providence, RI-based Doppelgänger Dance Collective (DDC) presented a work choreographed by Paul Singh and B.J. Sullivan, performed by DDC founders, Shura Baryshnikov and Danielle Davidson. According to their program notes, DDC aims to foster a place for specifically duet performance to grow through their movement and the commissions of outside choreographers. Baryshnikov and Davidson’s contemporary ballet vocabulary helped Oracles 1 & 2 and Empty Seats showcase an elegant strength. Spiraling through the space, the women moved gracefully through the two sections, though there was no apparent relationship between the dancers. Beginning wearing brightly colored shirts, the dancers eventually changed into gray and black and, in a later section, added two chairs to the stage. While the chairs did not seem to serve a purpose as in TKO, the movement itself became much more grounded, and partnering became a stronger factor between the two. Throughout Oracles, an emphasis was placed on the contrast of light and dark, through both the costume changes and the difference in movement quality. Though the choreography effectively highlighted the dancers’ skills, overall, the piece lacked a clear focus.

The two duets showcased the versatility of the duet, and complemented each other nicely as representations of the East Coast’s dance scene. Although the program was relatively short, it left room for contemplation about how a duet can bring forth meaning.

Seattle International Dance Festival runs June 10-25. Information about performances and workshops can be found on their website: www.seattleidf.org