There is joy on the stage. Tracey Wong embarks on a waacking solo, supported by a group of fervent dancers ready to cheer her on from the sides. Wong is articulate and lighthearted, flying through complex arm movements with a certain performative flair. She is direct and interactive with the audience, playing with facial expression to pull us in to her movement.
Doré Dance Company’s Lines And Bounces begins with a vibrant guest performance by Rhythmetic Progressions. This group serves as the company’s training program, which aims to connect with the Seattle community as a whole and help preserve the culture of street dance. Under Artistic Director Garrett Crawford, participants are offered entirely free educational opportunities. Though Doré Dance identifies as “contemporary-modern” in style, Rhythmetic Progressions provides training in the styles of hip hop, locking, house, waacking, popping and breaking.
Their performance, as the name suggests, uses rhythm as a central component. Each dancer shows off their individuality with a solo, supplemented with community moments of group unison, and lots of interaction between the performers. No one appears to be holding back. Smiles, conscious lip synching, and laughter pervade the work. Crawford performs a jump with his legs parallel to the floor in front of him, and then proceeds to purposefully land in that position, a smile on his face even as he hits the ground. All of the performers look like they are truly having the best time.
Doré Dance Company is led by Artistic Director and Choreographer Stephanie Golden. The company was founded in 2014 in San Francisco, and is now based in Seattle after Golden’s move here in 2016. Lines And Bounces begins with dancers holding up one finger, an emblem that is returned to as the work progresses, with more fingers added each time to signify the progression of the piece. Dancers follow each other onto the stage to form a line facing the audience, jostling their bodies sporadically from side to side before rejoining as a group for unison movement.
A main focus of the work is building compelling group images, where dancers are arranged to create lines that serve a geometrically pleasing tessellation. Frequently working in unison, they complete positions that are the same across the group, such as each dancer connecting their leg to the back of another dancer, forming a close-knit horizontal boundary. In other cases, performers use different body parts to complete each other’s lines. These images create a cohesive compositional theme and the execution of this theme is varied enough that it is still interesting as it is revisited over time. Additionally, the use of partnering in this piece is a notable change from the gooey, flowing style of partnering popular in Seattle. Instead, the partnering in this work serves angular positions with sharp, matter-of-fact movement quality.
Golden has an excellent handle on how to play with momentum. She creates movement that expresses momentum out of nowhere, then abandons it, then brings it back at an unexpected moment. There are energetic jumps without noticeable preparation, unpredictable spurts in choreographic speed, and sudden moments of athletic command. It keeps us wondering what is about to happen, since we’re rarely given indications.
As a whole, Lines And Bounces is thoughtful and visually satisfying. There is a lot of attention paid to the angles and placement of each part of the body in the choreography, as well as the contributions of individuals and smaller groups to the bigger picture. Engaging and straightforward, the steps look as though they feel good on the bodies of the performers. Between the lively energy of Rhythmetic Progressions and the gratifying shapes of Doré Dance Company, this show could be equally enjoyed by both a seasoned dance viewer and a newcomer.