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BOOST 2013: 9 Choreographers, 2 Writers

Written by Kaitlin McCarthy and Mariko Nagashima

Marlo Martin’s without context or provocation
Photo by Joseph Lambert, Jazzy Photo 
Now an integral part of the Seattle dance season, BOOST has made a name for itself over the last four years for presenting a diverse cross-section of dance-makers. With such a range of choreographic voices, SeattleDances decided to compile a range of views on each piece. Staff writers Kaitlin McCarthy and Mariko Nagashima each attended one evening of the festival and, between the two of them, saw all nine choreographers. Their thoughts and descriptions of each piece are as follows:
An Irritating Cerebral Itch (an excerpt)
Choreographer: Kristin Legg/Redd Legg Dance
The piece opened on Carla Maria Negrete Martinez, lying like a newborn as two women stood watching in black tights and flowing tops. Martinez seemed to climb her way to the surface, exhibiting incredible control and extension in a floor work phrase. She then joined the rest of the cast in balletic turns, high legs, and modern contractions as they serenely swirled around Karena Birk, who stood fixed in a sheer red dress that seemed to glow in the light. Birk’s gestural phrases indicated her veins, as she drew lines from different parts of her body. The cast then returned all wearing red dresses for a petit allegro section and the mood shifted to joyous anticipation.
MN: Cerebral Itch is an important piece largely because Legg is one of the only people in Seattle making work with such a distinctly classical edge. With its jumps and turns, it’s the kind of thing one thinks of when they think of “dancing.” Fast-paced and intricate, the choreography presented a challenge for the dancers, who displayed a range of capabilities. They seemed to relish in the complexities, but also looked a bit harried at times, as if stressed about the counts or their execution. Despite some plastered on smiles, in a repeated movement where they threw their hands behind them, arching their back in a silent ecstatic shout, they emanated a delightful and unmistakable joie de vivre.
KM: Complicated and technical, the second section was not as together as the first, and the expression of glee was not convincing on everyone. Regardless, Cerebral Itch succeeded as a lovely heartfelt ballet with a story to tell.
Kristen Legg’s An Irritating Cerebral Itch
Photo by Joseph Lambert, Jazzy Photo  
Declarations of War (An excerpt from Gathering Bones)
Choreographer: Maya Soto
KM: Declarations of War began with the powerful opening image of nine women in tight triangle formation dressed in full skirts with wild teased hair. Gestural movement in wave-like cannons gave way to the dancers primping Soto like a Disney princess before removing her skirt. Soon after the rest of the cast returned de-skirted and the piece shifted to full-bodied movement infused with martial arts style. Heavy percussion music by Paul Walsh was epic enough for the most grandiose of war movies, and the dancers fittingly seemed to be training for battle. At times, the dancers were united against an outside force, but they also seemed to become paranoid and turned against each other. While the dancers’ purpose needed some clarification, the movement was crisp, primal, and athletic.
What We Have
Choreographer: Michele Miller
MN: A trio for three women, Michele Miller’s piece may have been Saturday evening’s standout work. The three dancers (Becca Blackwell, Jana Kincl, and Emma Klein) moved with panther-like agility through complex partnering. They catapulted themselves across each other’s backs and rolled seamlessly to the ground. A study in trust and timing, one dancer rolled away just as another landed a leap where she had been, or one spun around to perfectly catch another as she careened backwards. Though there was no narrative, none was needed; the pure momentum and grace of the movement was mesmerizing enough.
A Recipe for Polarity Part 1: Cacophony
Choreographer: MaryAnn McGovern with the dancers
A piece aimed at revealing the process beneath the choreography, Cacophony started with two dancers who were instructed to make a duet without compromising. They struggled in opposition, each vocally expressing different ideas about what should happen in the duet, forcing the two into hilariously awkward positions. After the rest of the cast entered, the dancers intermittently spoke about some aspect of the process, and then vaguely demonstrative dance ensued.
MN: With many humorous moments, it poked fun at itself, and made light of how challenging dance-making can be. The movements themselves tended to be simplistic, and in the end, it fell into its own self-proclaimed trap. It had the audience chuckling along with it though, an accomplishment in and of itself.
KM: The idea to give behind the scenes insight is interesting, but when the product is only about the process, it leaves the choreography irrelevant. Overall, the dancing felt muddled and generic, and the lines felt scripted and contrived. McGovern should seek to develop moments of authenticity in the work, and not forget the integrity of the choreography even within a process piece.
A Nest in Luna
Choreographer: Anna Conner
Stark in tone, lighting, and costumes, A Nest in Luna was a trio performed by Julia Cross, Deborah Corrales, and choreographer Anna Conner. Beginning in a low, wide-legged squat, their torsos undulated continuously; occasional ticks in the music prompted a synchronized shift to the side, though the undulation remained a constant. The rest of the piece played extensively with repetition, impossibly deep lunges, and quirky gestures including one where the dancers pulled up an eyelid as they pivoted toward the back.
MN: Luna stood out for its tight dancing and no-nonsense intensity. The trio looked well rehearsed, intuiting their timing from one another. An abstract piece, it created its own unapologetic world and hypnotically revealed it to the viewer.
KM: Opening with unison undulation in granny panties, this piece began true to the aesthetic stylings of recent Cornish graduates, but it emerged with a distinct viewpoint. Its overall impact lay in its unison, strength, and energy that pulsed from the stage, as well as an interesting progression from hypnotic to presentational to aggressive.
Anna Conner’s A Nest in Luna
Photo by Joseph Lambert, Jazzy Photo
Choreographer: Sarah Kathryn Olds/SERENDIP
KM: The opening of murTOWN instantly sent the audience to creepysville. While Olds and Eric Aguilar swirled around each other in a two-faced duet, the rest of the cast stood menacingly in the background with their hands neatly folded in front of them. Dressed in high collars and long black skirts tinged with red, they evoked a sense of religious fanaticism gone wrong. The dancers alternated between emotive full-bodied movement and trance-induced scurries with placid doll faces. The space was well designed with the different actions complementing rather than competing, and the vocabulary was abstract yet specific. The dancers seemed on a personal path of delusion that they could not escape.
Choreographer: Alana O Rogers
ID featured five strong females who seemed to waver between the safety of the group and their own individuality. Lush movement mingled with precise details that often paid careful attention to the walk of the foot. Each dancer had a brief solo moment of a unique phrase but all, with the exception of Rogers, ultimately returned to the group’s unison. Rogersstood alone at the end while the rest clumped in a corner, their heads ticking in different directions like curious gophers.
MN: Filled with many interesting movement qualities, the piece was expressively danced by the cast of five who each presented a distinctive style. Unfortunately, shadowy lighting obscured some of their movements. Large rectangles of light appeared, but the dancers never related to their boundaries, though this could have made the themes of inclusion and exclusion more crystalline.
KM: This piece had beautiful lines, powerful unison, and nice use of space. Victoria McConnell shone with expressiveness and clarity, and Julia Cross was captivatingly articulate in her movements. Some unification of focus was needed, and the short interlude of sci-fi feeling music was confusing and unnecessary. Also notable was the fantastic lighting design by Dave Proscia.
Choreographer: Elia Mrak
In complete silence, dancer Erica Badgeley entered in a flowing white dress, turned over an hourglass, and ran to the front of the stage. She leaped, suspending her body perpendicular to the ground before landing on her belly and rolling abruptly to the side, a movement repeated throughout the work. Circular themes emerged as she stumbled in tight circles then paced around the stage, her movement evolving from a walk, to a limp, to an awkward jutting leap before reversing the process. In the end, after turning the hourglass again, she simply ran away.
MN: This seemed largely to be a test of patience. Badgeley is a captivating dancer and gave a committed performance, but the work’s length and building repetition, pushed the audience’s attention span, which may be exactly what Mrak was after. Second to last on the bill of an already lengthy program, however, Saturday evening’s placement did little to showcase the work.
KM: Badgeley performed with intense beauty, authenticity, and stamina. Mrak has taken artistic risks that keep the audience hanging on every movement, although the ending seemed a little clumsy for the slow burn of this piece.
Marlo Martin’s without context or provocation
Photo by Joseph Lambert, Jazzy Photo 
without context or provocation (an excerpt)
Choreographer: Marlo Martin
Martin’s signature mix of high-flying limbs, full-bodied physicality, and quick-fire gestures characterized the first half of the piece, set to a sound score of the dancers’ overlaid voices. By describing what defined them, their voices lent an intimacy to the piece that developed in the second half with a more organic compositional structure where sculpture seemed to rise out of flurries of movement.
MN: Though Martin has clearly integrated some new shapes into her movement, the structure and overall aesthetic feels familiar. She has perfected a particular structure of large group pieces, and her fierce band of empowered females easily navigates between solos, duos, and pulsing group sections. Having a distinctive style is impressive and difficult to cultivate, but the similarities to her previous work lessen without context’s impact.
KM: As always, the badmarmar company exhibited the kind of dance badassery that makes the heart beat faster with kinesthetic excitement, all while maintaining a very polished performance.