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Coriolis Dance Collective Shines in Co-Lab 3

Written by Mariko Nagashima
Coriolis Dance Collective presented an impressive display of contemporary choreography in their third annual Co-Lab on May 14 and 15. Held at Spectrum Dance Theater, the show utilized choreographers from across the country creating an opportunity to see works not usually presented in the Seattle area.  
INFERENCE, created by Gilmer Duran of Eugene Ballet Company, was a stark, ominous quartet set to soundscapes by Beta Collide. Performed by Natascha Greenwalt-Murphy, Andrea Larreta, and Danny and Sylvain Boulet, every movement was studied and intentional, with a motif of counting seen throughout. A voice whispered numbers and the dancers repeatedly counted on their fingers as if waiting for each other, seeming to cling to the rigidity this repetition provided. The only one to break away from this systematic process was Greenwalt-Murphy whose movement gradually became more and more erratic. She was finally suppressed as the other three surrounded her, subduing her limbs and pulsating together. A continually shifting video of grey cityscapes, clouds, and numbers projected in the background furthered the cold detached feeling of the work.

Greenwalt-Murphy’s piece sunder/usurp, a duet performed by Christin Call and Danny Boulet, examined the progression of a couple’s relationship. In the beginning Call was effervescent, playfully grasping for Boulet’s attention; she sneaked her head through the crook of his arm peering up expectantly while he pushed her face away, completely indifferent. Call’s frustration mounted when Boulet left her, and when he returned their relationship devolved from subtle discord to aggression. The same playful gesture was repeated, but this time the humor and sweetness in it was replaced by tension and hostility. A series of stunning lifts and intricate partnering showcased Call’s endless extensions and Boulet’s deft strength. The most admirable thing about Greenwalt-Murphy’s choreography, however, is that it conveys this whole story through subtle nuances, relying on the dancers’ natural expressiveness instead of straying towards overly dramatic and gestural. And while the music, by the bluesy The Dutchess & The Duke, has lyrics that reference a broken relationship, the choreography never falls into the trap of being too literal.
Lumen, a subdued piece by San Francisconative Kara Davis, utilized softly glowing candles that the dancers manipulated in a state of fascination. Performed by Greenwalt-Murphy, Call, and Marissa Quimby, the piece began in darkness, with only the candle lights to illuminate the dancers’ shapes. The effect was mesmerizing, drawing the eye to the arcs of light created by the movement and making the actual choreography rather secondary. As the stage lights brightened and the candles were removed, the dancers repeated the same phrases with a sense of internal conflict. Long balletic lines crumpled suddenly inward, and the dancers writhed in contorted positions. The piece finished in darkness, with the dancers repeatedly lifting up their candles before hastily retreating from them. Though the candles had an interesting aesthetic effect, the intention behind them remained nebulous giving the piece a slightly unresolved feeling.
Decidedly more high-energy was COSM, a duet choreographed by Selfick Ng-Simancas and danced by Quimby and Sylvain Boulet. Opening with short scenes in stark blue light, it created the impression of flashes of a far flung cosmic event. Quimby and Boulet were perfectly matched; both danced with a dynamic urgency that mirrored the pulsing music. Clad in sparkly black and silver bodysuits their legs streaked incisively through the air in gigantic extensions before jumping abruptly into deep pliés. Part 80’s disco, part galactic spectacle, this piece was anything but dull.
The final and easily most accessible piece of the evening was Lauren Edson’s Real Gone. Edson, a dancer with Trey McIntyre Project in Boise, delved into the idea of the 50’s housewife in this delightful romp set to music by the Department of Eagles. The opening duet by Greenwalt-Murphy and Danny Boulet portrayed a relationship based on her being the demure, eager to please housewife. In playful partnering she played coy but the duet is laced with humor—like when Greenwalt-Murphy stopped and smiled obsequiously as she bent over, Boulet standing behind her. Another highlight of the piece was a solo by Quimby to a cover of Elvis’ Love Me. Quimby grooved easily, lamenting a lost love with great candor. The work finished with a fast and furious quintet that displayed the range of the company. In a whirlwind of rapid and highly technical choreography, the five dancers moved with precision and unbounded energy unprecedented by the earlier pieces.
As a whole, Co-Lab 3 presented contemporary dance at its finest, infused with refined balletic technique, but stretched by innovative movement and novel artistic ideas. Coriolis Dance Collective is definitely a company to watch as it continues to move to the forefront of Seattle’s dance scene.