A glimpse into Seattle’s vivid cultural kaleidoscope, STG’s Global Party celebrated the dance and musical traditions of Seattle’s diverse global communities. By turns joyous and poignant, Seattle Theatre Group’s 9th annual event, performed November 10 at the Moore Theatre, treated audience members to a vibrant world tour through Korea, the Philippines, the African diaspora, and many cultures of the US in a seamlessly composed evening.
After a thrilling performance by the talented teens of Simba Youth Marimba Ensemble, a handful of performers from each group rose from the house and danced up the stairs to the stage, inviting the audience to embark with them upon a journey. A collaboration among the performers and staged by Kirsten Barron Kinney, this short preview of each troupe provided a tantalizing morsel of the courses to come. Throughout the production, lush hues designed by Robert J. Aguilar illuminated the backdrop in time with musical swells. The lighting design helped contribute to the evening’s overall continuity, no mean feat for a festival of fourteen distinct works.
Northwest Tap Connection presented Odyssey II – Barbados by Shania Proctor, a tap fusion piece exploring the relationships between African Americans and other members of the African diaspora. The work highlighted each of the young dancers in a small solo showcasing their unique gifts, to the loud and enthusiastic support of audience members. Later in the evening, the dancers’ versatility shone in a gripping, smooth, and current house piece entitled Warrior Spirits Walking the Earth, choreographed by Dani Tirrell.
Morning Star Korean Cultural Center presented a beautiful piece utilizing dan geom, or short swords. The four dancers seemed to glide weightlessly in silk dresses reminiscent of wispy clouds, only to drop into fiercely powerful crouches, swinging a sword from each wrist. Rings attached to each knife’s handle added another exciting percussive element to the work by Sinae Cheh as the dancers fought through opposition to a state of tranquility.
Etienne Cakpo, director of Gansango Music & Dance, performed a haunting original work, Angel and the Traveler. Wearing body paint and an ethereal white costume, Cakpo perched atop a stool as if embodying a spirit poised to enter the temporal plane. With exquisite control, Cakpo articulated his arms and spine, calling to mind an otherworldly bird. His depth of maturity and expression lent gravity to this extraordinary solo.
The evening also included performances by Shorecrest High School’s Hip Hop Team and Sayaw Filipino Folk Dance Troupe. Made up of University of Washington students, Sayaw’s offerings referenced Spanish influence on Filipino dance. Their works La Jota Manileña appeared closely linked to the Spanish Flamenco style. Shorecrest’s energy and verve made clear why the dance team has won so many district, state, and national competitive titles. In their piece inspired by the Broadway smash Hamilton, Shorecrest’s many dancers showcased both their peppy, upbeat footwork and their standout ability to lift and flip one another, all while maintaining scrupulous unison.
Donald McKayle’s Shaker Life, from Songs of the Disinherited (1972), wrapped up the evening on a soulful, energetic note. The dancers leapt with flexed feet and shook their palms to the sky as if unable to contain the jubilation rapturously welling up inside. This joyous work crystallized the connection between Modern dance and its roots in African dance.
The whole cast of Global Party returned to the stage for an exciting grand finale, also choreographed by Kinney. All of the gifted performers gave an encore in their own distinct styles and then came together to finish the evening in crowd-pleasing unison. While each act had been excellent in itself, the effect of the entire Global Party dancing together at the end was nothing short of exhilarating.
For more on STG’s Global Party, please visit HERE.