DANCING HOME

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It’s common knowledge that very few Seattle residents are actually from here, and that couldn’t be more true for the dance community. Many dancers move here upon college graduation, seeking to integrate themselves into the rich dance scene. Liz Houlton and Alyssa Casey are two of these people. Meeting at Velocity’s Strictly Seattle summer intensive in 2015 and dancing together in the resulting performance, the duo have since worked together and separately in the community. Houlton and Casey come together again this month under their respective companies, Virtualso Dance Company and Squatch Tanztheater, to present home home – a show devoted to the exploration and ever-evolving question of “home”. After an open showing of the works in progress, SeattleDances dove deeper into the artists’ thoughts behind such a bittersweet concept.

Photo by Karina Richardson.

SD: What does creating home home mean to you personally?

LH: home home is a work made in reflection to a longing for something tangible… I think for me, at least, I have been struggling to define myself outside of the Minnesota (Minnesota Dance Theatre) or Calarts brand, and even outside the Velocity (Velocity Dance Center) brand. It’s a coming of age tale and a taking back of things we lost as we grew up. Playfulness and stubbornness, an ownership of our knowledge and the flexibility to learn more. I am not where I grew up, where my home home is, but it certainly is something that has been carried with me since I left.

AC: I started my process by collecting all of the things I had written, thought about, and taken note of over the last 3 years.  I spent much of that time avoiding settling into one place for too long.  I became obsessed with the idea of the big, grand finale moment.  We often see it in movies, all of a sudden everything falls into place.  Everyone ends up exactly where they are meant to be, and I honestly had no idea what that meant for myself. I know it’s a silly, naive thing to compare our own lives to movies, but what I was actually searching for is belonging.  The heart of this work is a question on the validity of if any of us truly belong, and if we don’t, can we create that moment and feeling for ourselves?

Photo by Karina Richardson.

SD: Talk a bit more about your work in home home.

LH: My piece we built a pepparkaker house is an opportunity for me, personally, to make a work that isn’t about my ego or an abstract idea that can’t be contextualized. It’s about more… creating warmth, compassion, and a burning desire to fully understand our place in this life.

AC: And then she whined, I’ve never been lost before… begs the question “am I losing myself to find my way, or losing my way to find myself?”, all while grappling with the level of control we have over creating our own paths. It utilizes poetry written when I was 11 years old, singing, and dancing that lifts each other to new heights, bursts into the unknown, and searches for magic. It’s self reflective, and questions how we can relate to one another in order to find our own place in a world that’s constantly changing.  

Photo by Karina Richardson.

SD: Why does Seattle specifically need to see home home?

LH: I think there’s a necessity to show this work in Seattle. Casey and I are experiencing homesickness in our twenties, living halfway across the country from our family and trying to build not only a new home for ourselves, but grow into the women we aspire to be. I have found friends and colleagues and co-workers who are in Seattle for the same reasons I am… and that’s creating a lovely support system that I didn’t know I needed. This work is a way to reflect on the choices we’ve made in moving, and to say “thank you” to the support we’ve found.

AC: Our world, and Seattle specifically, is changing and evolving so quickly, that the idea of belonging is in constant flux. Not only is there an endless stream of new transplants searching for how they fit into Seattle, but everything is shifting for the people who have always called this city home. Through a personal reflection on my past and present, home home searches for how we can come together in these unknown times, in order to help one another figure out where we are going next.

home home will premiere at the Erickson Theater March 16 & 17 at 8pm. Find show and ticket info here.