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Inter|National Series (Second Weekend): Undulations & Recurrences in Nature

Written by Carla María Negrete Martínez

Liz Erber/Urfluss (Germany)
Photo by Ule Mägdefrau & Liz Erber 

Seattle International Dance Festival is culminating with the Inter|National Series at Raisbeck Performance Hall this weekend. A distinct program, it includes two works by SIDF’s artistic director Cyrus Khambatta; a dance film shot in Hong Kong by Kanta Kochhar Lindgren; and a new work by artist Liz Erber, who recently returned to Seattle from Berlin.

Khambatta opened the show with India Calling, a personal exploration and research into genetics and their materialization in everyday life reflected through simple gestures and movement patterns. Having discovered his foreign heritage at age twenty-four, Khambatta shared through a video interview how meeting his East Indian father and learning about his culture triggered a quest into the duality that lives inside him. The Indian side of him has slowly been leaking out through kinesthesia, such as a unique manner of articulating his hands; and through India Calling, Khambatta revealed a movement vocabulary filled with spokes, suspensions, and never-ending successive and sequential flow. Each section was divided by either the video interview, informational text spoken by each of the five dancers, or a story about their own personal findings of postural patterns that matched that of their parents. Filled with richly colored costumes, and set to an original score by Indian Veena player and vocalist Nirmala Rajasekar and composer/cellist Michelle Kinney, Khambatta has combined his Western culture with his Indian one. At the end the successive flow of movement stopped, and all five dancers drummed their feet in an open stance, rotating counter clockwise as a unit. This shift in dynamic quality seems to mark the beginning of a newly found voice in Khambatta’s work.

The second piece presented by Khambatta Dance Company was A Moment Repeated. Dancers Kaitlin McCarthy, Jenny May Peterson, and Meredith Sallee stood closely together in a diagonal shifting their weight from side to side. Each dancer repeated the previous dancer’s movement, which called to attention the subtle nuances from body to body. The piece also kept close to the evening’s theme by reflecting on how many have passed though the places we inhabit now and left invisible marks and how moments inevitably recur and subtlety change, just as genes are transferred and leave invisible marks, but create a different being.

Kanta Kochar Lindgren (USA-Hong Kong)
Photo (Still) by domting

While Khambatta fulfilled the “National” part of the program, the audience was transported far away from the American continent to Asian grounds with We Carry The Water: Hong Kong. Choreographed by Kochhar-Lindgren and performed in Hong Kong last winter, the video, however, was made by domting and shot in the Hong Kong Waterworks. Marked by motifs such as reflections of buildings in a glass bowl containing water, and a sea-sounding score composed by Steve Hui, four dancers ran to and from the camera like waves hitting shore and retracting. The water-like effects laid over the film for transitions, further enhanced the theme of the piece. Frozen frames of dancers jumping from a chair were laid over the film, creating snap memories of moments and reminding the audience that the water seen one day at sea, like moments in time, changes and is never the same water seen on a different day. We Carry The Water: Hong Kong spoke of the remarkable relationship that humans have to nature.

Next, Erber presented CHORO CORPORA, an original work created through residencies in Berlin last fall and re-taught to dancers Jennifer Lin LeMesurier, Michele McCaughly, and Paterson; Erber also performed in the piece. Clothed in knitted beige dresses with matching caps, all four dancers were aligned in profile and articulated their spines, making each undulation seem almost embedded in space. In the blink of an eye two dancers rippled their spines in opposite directions, creating a mirrored effect. These undulations progressed to different body parts and levels in space. A memorable moment occurred when all the dancers spooned on the floor, rippled and traveled as one spinal chord downstage, and then focused on articulating only their left arm, then hand, and finally fingers. The intimate space at Raisbeck allowed for the viewers to closely focus on their  fingers’wave-like motion. Erber is a master at deeply exploring one concept and exhausting all available choreographic options without losing her audience’s attention.

Seattle International Dance Festival will present its last show tonight at 7:30pm. Tickets may still be available through Brown Paper Tickets.