Silhouettes of dancers come into view one by one, performing a fleeting moment of sharp geometrical movements before returning to stillness. Each dancer that emerges presents a different phrase that contains a similar striking quality before multiple dancers are revealed simultaneously as the lights grow. The action increases in complexity as they begin to dance in trios, duets, and group unison. The senses are overwhelmed with almost too many things happening on stage to be able to focus on them all.
Inside of the chaos, however, is also a beautiful sense of unity. In one memorable instance the group gathers in a clump formation and pulses as if a heartbeat. Flashes of humanity, like two people dancing side by side connected in intention, appear and disappear under ever shifting stage lights, suggesting that fleeting moments are only satisfying if human connection can be found within them. Bruce McCormick’s, Palatial Vestiges, was a part of ARC Dance’s Summer Dance at the Center, which continues through July 29 at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Second on the program, Marika Brussel’s Skin Of The Sea, also included group unity. This time, however, the group acted as a barrier to one woman’s freedom. Madeline Bay, clad in red while the rest of the group is dressed in blue with see-through overcoats, plays the damsel in distress, battling her way through the ebb and flow of ocean waves. Mostly she tries to swim against the sea of the other dancers, but she occasionally chooses to swim with the sea, which provides moments of peacefulness for Bay. Flowing upper body motions, gorgeous circular movements and turns on pointe lend themselves to a vision of graceful flowing water, that is also relentless. The range of emotions on Bay’s face makes it easy to follow the arc of the story and understand the hardship she endures. Even by the end Bay is never able to fight her way out, showing that the moral of this story is not that you can overcome any difficulty, it is instead that some things are impossible to control.
Wen Wei Wang’s, Quartet, a piece inspired by the Peter Gregson music used to create it, features four of ARC Company’s gorgeous dancers: Bay, Erin Crall, Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin, and Daniel Ojeda. All four displayed a heightened range of flexibility and physicality that helped them embody the fluid movement. They wore nude colored clothing and black socks that helped the dancers effortlessly slide and turn across the stage. Two breathtaking partnerships developed within the quartet of dancers, each partnership getting a moment to shine individually before returning to the group. Grand battements and développés showed the extraordinary balletic rigor and control of the dancers. Full body undulations showed their versatility. Each movement seamlessly connected to the music, which was an uplifting violin melody. Quartet is about the relationship of the music to the dancers, and also the dancers’ relationships to one another.
Paul Destrooper’s, Alchemy of a Memory, is another piece that focuses on human connection, contemplating the memories we keep from those connections. The costumes, bright colored leotards, skirts, and pointe shoes, foreshadows the classical nature of the piece from the beginning. With bright smiles they dance to the sound of guitar strumming as someone might on a beautiful summer day. Performing classical ballet steps and gliding through the space as a group, connections form between the women of the piece as they begin to perform the same steps with the same emotional intent. The only male dancer, Andres Angulo Castillo, partners the women. Each new connection between partnerships with Castillo is unique because each is danced in a different emotional state. While overall the piece is positive, melancholy undertones suggest that some connections are lost or forgotten.
In Jason Ohlberg’s Milk and Honey, the sound of French music sets a romantic tone for the start of the piece, accompanying contemporary ballet moves that glide through the space. Specific spatial patterns begin to reveal themselves, which are matched by dramatic shadows and shapes created on the ground through stage lighting. The shadows dance across the bodies on stage, influencing their patterns of movement and framing our perception. Ending with an unexpected melancholy love song in English, they end on a note of mixed emotions. Milk and Honey is a bittersweet ending to an overall sensational summer dance show. -Cassianna Diaz
Arc Dance’s, Summer Dance At The Center was performed at the Leo K. Theatre, July 19th-28th. For More information visit http://www.arcdance.org.