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Bellingham Repertory Dance Entertains with Laughter, Movement, and Stories

Written by Jacqueline Louise Brock

BRD’s In Limbo co-created by Casey Grant (left) and Ella Mahler (far right);
also featuring Gabrielle Nomura (center).
Photo by Steve Mahler
Bellingham Repertory Dance (BRD), in collaboration with Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, presented Phrasings In Word and Dancethis past weekend, April 27- 29, 2012, at The Firehouse Performing Arts Center. The annual fundraising performance included live music, film, and new works choreographed in collaboration with several local poets. Each piece had a unique way of utilizing the poet or poem, presented in many different ways. Poets read from their seats in the audience, a few poems were recorded, one poet shared the actual dance space with the dancers, and some poems were posted in the lobby for audience members to read during intermission.


A standout piece of the night was In Limbo, a work co-created by choreographer Ella Mahler and poet Casey Grant Gainor .Performed by Mahler and Gabrielle Nomura to Mahler’s poem, “Waiting in the Dark,” the entirety of the piece took place on one side of the stage within the boundaries of a rectangle of light. As the two dancers jumped at each other, diving into the negative space under a leg or around a torso, Gainor walked along the boundary of the rectangle reciting his poem and making his way to his seat in the audience in silence at the end of the piece. Gainor left the audience with the image of the dancers taking leaps at each other, throwing their torsos onto the other’s shoulders, resting for a second before being tossed back to the floor.

To conclude the first half of the evening, Pam Kuntz performed her solo, Waxing Poetic. The poem, “The Esthetician Waxes Poetic,” discussed the change in the Esthetician profession over the years as the request and services offered have evolved from the standard bikini wax, to cut out deigns, to actual bedazzling. Kuntz’s attempts at sexy poses and awkward glances at the audience contrasted with her disheveled appearance, wearing baggy sweat pants, a stained T-shirt, and hair tossed up into a knot. As the poem continued to discuss the length and pain some women go to make neat what they might think messy, Kuntz paralleled this with her costume change from sweat pants to a party dress and high heels. An interesting piece, Waxing had the audience rolling with laughter.

BRD dancers in Grinding/Grounding by Annie Hewlett
Photo by Steve Mahler

Opening the second half of the show was Breathwork, choreographed and performed by Angela Kiser and Ian Bivins, and inspired by Rick Hermann’s poem of the same name The piece had a lightness in approach and tone, exploring breath and air. The two dancers utilized two white bed sheets that shifted purposes between sections, in one it became a dance partner and in another a fluffy white cloud. Another prop that generated smiles and giggles from the audience was the use of a balloon attached to the backside of Kiser’s pink pajamas. The task of walking from one side of the stage to the other became infinitely entertaining as Kiser struggled against the urge to float away with the balloon. What really sold this piece were the dancers. Without their evident training in theater and dance, none of the images portrayed would have come through as magically believable as they did.

Bellingham Repertory Dance is a group of highly skilled dancers with a knack for choreographing entertaining, moving pieces of works. This made for a delightful evening filled with laughter and moments of reflection. BRD is hosting a fundraising event on May 19, 2012 to help support the wonderful venue, Bellingham Firehouse Performing Arts Center, where BRD resides. Tickets to see these talented dancers can be found at Brown Paper Tickets.