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AEON Contemporary Dance Makes its Debut with Sentimental

Written by Nalisha Rangel

Artistic Director and choreographer Joseph Schanbeck premiered his new company AEON, pronounced ‘E-on,’ at Velocity Dance Center Father’s Day, June 19th. The eight-woman troupe showcased 11 unique pieces, each with simple staging and costumes, which allowed all the dancers’ technique to shine.  The first, By Your Side, featured seven dancers in dresses of all colors and prints. Right away each displayed strong balance and beautiful extensions with stable arabesques and tight turns. Combined with music by Cocorosie, the audience was introduced to the complex yet playful style of Schanbeck’s choreography.

Music box featured Emma Ruhl, whose height was accentuated by her movement; limbs lyrically drawn by the arrangement of Regina Spektor’s piano melody.  Ruhl’s arms were floppy one second and, with a cord change, stiff and extended the next. She danced playfully like a girl alone in her bedroom in front of a mirror performing to her favorite song.
Erin Johnson followed with Suspended, which started with an attitude derrière and continued with more unrelenting developpés and a grand plié. Her long-sleeved, dark blouse seemed to lengthen her reach as she dived into a penché.
White Blank Pagefeatured all eight members in light-hued dresses and skirts. Ruhl’s leap into a split impressed, as did her gentle landing. The choreography seemed to demand areas of unison and precision, which each dancer delivered throughout. They complimented Mumford and Son’s musicality and strumming speed with the use of the entire wood floor and timely cannons. This piece stood out as the strongest yet. It was the first piece where the dancers made contact and the chemistry between them became more pronounced.
This continued in Sawdust & Diamonds. Five dancers entered under yellow lights with purple, modest one-pieces and floated across the stage to Joanna Newsom’s harp with regal eloquence and complex compositions. Forced-arch balances, a cannon that looked like a waterfall of limbs with each dancer floating to the floor, and ripples of the torsos followed quickly with high-extended penchés filled the work.
At Last closed the first half of the show, featuring Ruhl and Johnson in a pas de deux to Etta James’ soulful vocals. Both wore dark tanks, shorts with black socks, and two big smiles as they executed a powerful lift, multiple pirouettes, and splits while sharing moments of playful flirtations.
The second half seemed faster than the first with solos by Hosanna Tolman and a duet performed by Elizabeth Parr and April Torneby. Mariko Nagashima’s solo, Comptine D’un Autre Ete, showed amazingly sustained turns and balances and an evident commitment to the choreography as her emotional expressions complimented each shape she created with her body.
The show concluded with Sentimental, a work in which all eight dancers illustrated their ability to control tight, fast combinations within a small space on stage. As seven of them held individual balances, each dancer took her turn dancing frantically fast, yet with precision, in between the others, void of any disruptions to her fellow dancers. This last piece represented Schanbeck’s challenging, yet exquisite, articulation of power and grace.
AEON is a company to definitely keep an eye on as it makes its way onto Seattle’s dance scene with technique as exquisite as exhibited this evening.