Each year, SIDF’s Sanity Café choses three thematic words to inspire short, experimental works created over the course of only one week. This year, a social media poll selected fantasy, evolution, and stand. In this informal setting, artists have the freedom to create silly, funny, or hard-hitting works, take a risk, and step outside of their comfort zones.
Erica Badgeley’s Brainwaves.net featured Badgeley, Kim Holloway, and Nico Tower as a fantasy writer, evolutionary biologist, and lemonade stand owner, who all try their luck at “telepathic speed dating.” The three performers worked within a call and response format in which one dancer asked a question vocally and another responded through movement. Subtly, these one-sided conversations revealed each character’s existing prejudices against the others’ career choices, sometimes to humorous effect. Tower quipped, “I thought biology was just one of those stories you tell children, like the tooth fairy or democracy.”
In Unknown Covers, Redding City Ballet, hailing from Northern California, gamely danced in pointe shoes, unfazed by the Rendezvous’s compact stage. Vanessa Kurrasch, Elly Wright, and Jessica Christensen somberly passed papers to one another, while a commanding voice from offstage shouted words. The dancers rubbed and pressed leaves of paper across their legs and chests and rolled on the floor while holding books in between their ankles. Building up to a climax in which choreographer and performer Christensen cried out, “Amateur! Delete! Shit!” the dancers violently ripped pages out of the books, scattering them on the floor. Referencing the evolution of the writing process, Christensen seemed to portray that voice inside an artist of any genre who whispers, It’s not good enough.
Jax Mourningwood (Ryan McAtee) performed Transmute, a burlesque work that defies genre. Entering as a terrifying ancient monster, Mourningwood loped around the stage, his animal skull mask, antlers, and vast robe ominous and menacing. After shedding the rest of his costume, the antlers remained, lending Mourningwood the appearance of a fantastical satyr from Greek myth. As he dramatically dropped into the splits, gnawing coyly on one knuckle, Mourningwood’s oddly zoomorphic characterization pushed the boundaries of eroticism.
The evening also featured work by Alicia Mullikin, Lil’Tigre (Erin Gray), Madison Bristol, Austin Sexton, and Gabrielle Gainor. From zany, to serious, to sexy, Sanity Café showcases those rare and magical instances in which a rapid incubation can hatch a full-grown idea.
Seattle International Dance Festival runs through June 25 at various locations around Seattle. For more information, please visit HERE.