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Three Talented Young Women Shine at SCUBA

Written by Carla María Negrete Martínez

A Fork and Stick Thing at SCUBA.
Photo by Tim Summers
Friday evening, May 4, 2012, Velocity presented three of this year’s SCUBA artists at the Founders Theater. Gabrielle Revlock, from Philadelphia, presented a piece that created an experience in which sound and movement shared time; Seattle-based choreographer Allie Hankins expanded a work shown at the end of last year; and Spaghetti Co. presented Alice Gosti’s choreography, which explored the interchangeability of family roles.

In A Fork And Stick Thing, Revlock accentuated the kinetic representation of rhythmically spoken words. With performer Kristel Baldoz by her side, both women moved in synchronicity to strands of words such as “light, gone, time, flipping.” The sound score, composed by Jacob Mitas and Justin Moynihan, evolved throughout the piece from rhythmic text to instrumental music. While it was interesting to see what each word would ‘move’ like in Revlock’s world, when the instrumental music became interlocked with the movement, it was mesmerizing—suddenly the notes and the movement fitted seamlessly into this theatrical canvas. Revlock’s entertaining choreography led the audience through a journey of perfectly timed phrasing where every limbs’ motion had an accompanying sound. Baldoz and Revlock’s sharply executed steps were truly expressive; their focus, however, seemed to have been left in automatic mode. Their performance quality recalled Merce Cunningham’s work, in which precisely timed patterns made the dancers become focused to the point were no emotion showed. The rest of their bodies, however, contrasted their shielded stares. Revlock’s work, filled with floor choreography that highlighted the dancers’ leg extensions, refreshed the audience’s eyes and—especially—ears. She made people realize how connected the body is to rhythm and music and vibrations. At one point Baldoz took out a flute and played comically with Revlock bouncing across the stage. The mood abruptly softened, and, with both performers lying supine, the room filled with the bagpipe-esque music. This Philly artist has a talent for thematically combining dance into a music piece. It will be fascinating to see her continue to progress throughout the coming years.

Allie Hankins in Like a Sun…
Photo by Tim Summers
Second on the bill, Allie Hankins blew the night away with Like a Sun That Pours Forth Light But Never Warmth. Since its last performance in November, her piece, an exploration of Vaslav Nijinsky’s life, has grown into five sections separated by blackouts. Hankins’ choreographic simplicity allowed for the viewers to indulge in fascinating moments such as watching the musculature between her scapulae clench and observing gold glitter slowly being applied to her bare arms, collarbone, and shoulders. Hankins’ diverse emotions—lust, confrontation, doubt, isolation–were so vivid in her eyes that it was impossible to question her sincerity, both as a performer sharing this experience with the viewers, and as a choreographer fully devoted to this piece. The creative Hankins also used the entire building as her stage; during the performance she pulled a swath of red fabric hanging from the back curtain, through Velocity’s back room, presumably around the outside of the building, and in through the main door to the theater. This excursion brought a very determined Hankins back into the space. Using Ravel’s “Bolero,” Hankins alludes to Nijinsky’s insanity through repetition, but the piece becomes an entity separate from that of Nijinsky’s. As she bounced she used the same simple gestures she had done to cover herself in glitter, yet their gentle quality transformed to sharper and sometimes controlled slaps. With the crescendo, Hankins went from bouncing to jumping. She defied what seemed humanly possible as she resisted gravity for several minutes, making Like a Sun… all the more memorable.

Spaghetti Co. returned the evening to a more contemporary era with I always wanted to give you a pink elephant. The seeds for this piece were planted in January at the Bridge Project, also at Velocity. Beneath the theater’s bleachers performers Chantael Duke, Markeith Wiley, and Amy Ross sang TLC’s “Creep” while choreographer Gosti and Devin McDermott eerily used each other to travel through the performance space covered in flour. Amiya Brown’s lighting design emphasized the performers’ ghostly silhouettes drenched in flour, as they contorted and jerked to music by Puledra. Ahn Nguyen and the rest of the cast joined Gosti and McDermott on stage, and the group gathered around a living room set as if posing for a pleasant family portrait. The cast would just settle down, only to wrench each other from the chairs and coolly take one another’s places. While the quirky work could have stood alone without the flour, the added element served to reveal kinesthesia in negative space as the skilled dancers soared in and out of their distorted family portrait. Gosti seemed to reference the roles families fall into, how those relationships remain intact throughout the years as younger generations take over the roles of their predecessors. There were elements of humor when the performers looked at each other, annoyed and confused when their seat had been taken. While there was a definite ‘pink elephant’ and ‘creep’ in the room, the piece as a whole felt disconnected. Perhaps this was Gosti’s attempt at pushing the envelope further, but, if so, it seemed forced rather than innovative.

Don’t miss the work of these diverse and talented SCUBA artists. The last chance to see them in Seattle is Sunday, May 6, at 8:00 pm at Velocity’s Founders Theater. Tickets are available 30 minutes before the show at the door and possibly online through Velocity’s website