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Velocity’s BIG BANG Remix Party a True Blast

Written by Mariko Nagashima
Rashelle McKee (background) with Douglas Ridings.
Photo by Aaron Grady-Brown.
Dance exploded throughout VelocityDanceCenterlast night in their BIG BANG Remix Party, the second evening of their Fall Kick-Off event. More of an all-night open house than a dance performance, the space was divided into thirty different installations through which the audience wandered directed by arrows taped along the floor. With installations on countertops and bleachers, above the bathrooms, and in the window, dance was literally happening everywhere you turned, creating a truly immersing experience. Ranging from the wacky and wired (one performer actually wore a suit wired to an iPad that the audience swiped to manipulate his movement), to the provocative and post-modern, Velocity and its numerous collaborators showed that Seattle is abundant with dance artists and poised to make this a memorable and innovative season.

Though there were too numerous installations to discuss each specifically, here are a few of the stand-outs. In Passing…,  performed by Cyrus Khambatta’s troupe, took place in the center of the main studio and caught the eye almost immediately upon entering. Relying on audience participation, this contact improv troupe took cues off anyone who stepped into their delineated square of space. Similarly, a sign reading “turn on light to interact” invited audiences to engage with dancer Markeith Wiley, wearing an alien mouth-like mask in The New Animals’ installation Specimen 2476810 Zed. Each participants’ entrance in these installations initiated an entirely new dance; the spontaneous wiggling and ever-evolving interactions were captivating to watch.

Another fascinating installation was Creature/Pull (excerpt) performed by Rosa Vissers and Jessica Hatlo. In the first section one woman executed a tormented solo along the studio mirrors, alternately writhing and slapping the glass, her hands streaking downward as her partner, clad in an ominous black trench coat and officer cap watched menacingly. Reversing roles after both falling abruptly to the floor in unison, the first dancer, now turned captor forced the other to clean the mirrors she had imprinted just moments before. By emphatically wiping spots that the authoritarian jailer deems never clean enough, ultimately the dancers are only giving the audience a clearer picture of themselves, reflected, watching the performance unfold. The haunting violin music added to the eerie effect of the piece.

Bit(e), tear, gnaw, GULP (excerpt), performed by Rashelle McKee was another eye-catcher. Viewed from the street, McKee danced a committed and haunting solo in the window of Velocity’s office, while a video feed of her dancing the same movements filmed outside at the Seattle Center projected behind her. Almost like seeing double-vision, witnessing the live dancer and the video, both performed in such non-traditional locations, was a unique sensation.

Uraina Nagy with Soto Style’s Pinkalicious!
Photo by Aaron Grady-Brown.
On the lighter side was Pinkalicious!, an all-pink party where audience members could join in and groove with the dancers amid balloons and mounds of pink tulle, and Optimist Prime, where Eric Pitsenbarger robot danced wearing a Transformers helmet.
Far more sinister was ZETTEI domenech dance’s offering of Mimi. Three performers, scantily clad in low-cut leotards, with long, blond ponytails and fishnets covering their faces, moved with languorous intensity in a cage of plastic wrap. Also on the creepier side was Molly Sides’ Electro Cut, where she sat, hair covering her face, shaking as if electrocuted, a blue light bulb and a static-filled TV set the only illumination in her corner of the studio.

The level of commitment of all the performers was also remarkable. With audience members roving around them, music playing simultaneously, and the production lasting for over four hours, they all remained incredibly focused and invested in this marathon performance.

Full of surprises, the BIG BANG was a true dance extravaganza, and a fine feast to behold. Not only was art being displayed, but it was being created on the spot as audiences joined in. This was a uniquely Seattleevent and hopefully the first of many dance explosions to come.

Velocity’s kick off continues tonight with a sold out performance at 8 pm.