Kate Wallich may be the main choreographer of Super Eagle, set to premiere at Velocity this Thursday evening, but the work would not have become what it is without her collaborators and fellow performers—Andrew Bartee, Matt Drews, and Lavinia Vago. While they come from diverse backgrounds—Bartee is a rising star at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Drews has been seen most recently with The Pendleton House and Saint Genet, and Vago is currently dancing with RUBBERBANDance in Montreal—all are coming together under the collective name, The YC, to perform their first full length work. Super Eagle is stark but intimate, abstract yet dramatic, and the blending of these four distinct and captivating individuals is what gives it nuance, and adds an extra layer of texture and depth. The group readily acknowledges this potent mixture, too. “Choreographically it’s mostly me,” said Wallich in a recent interview with SeattleDances, “but through the dialoguing process with all four of us, the movement arrived to a place greater than it was delivered. It’s an ecosystem, a symbiotic thing between us all when we get into the studio.”
In earlier processes, Wallich says “it was about moves, and I was just transposing it on other people and trying to put people in boxes.” Anybody can make dance moves, she continued, but the process wasn’t working for her and she felt that it actually tended to erode a layer of trust with the dancers. With Super Eagle, though, “I feel like we built a layer of trust together for us each to explore.” Drews elaborated that this exploration involved “making [the work] make sense with our individual personalities. We’re all involved in so many other physicalities and work,” he continued. “Andrew is a ballet dancer 9 to 5 and Lavinia has been working with RUBBERBANDance and I do all this yoga, so we’re constantly shedding our skins and bringing that info in.” Bartee added that the creation process really became “about sharing body knowledge.” In melding this kinesthetic information, the group seems to have heightened their sensitivity towards each other, as seen in the exacting synchronicity throughout the work.
Utilizing their individuality within the context of the work was a process that took time, a luxury the group was afforded by Velocity Dance Center’s Made in Seattle program. The commission from Made in Seattle “is the reason why we continued to develop this [work],” said Wallich. “It gave us time to find a rhythm we like to work in, and time to find a rhythm we don’t like to work in.” Throughout their year and a half creative process, which included a Rauschenberg Residency in Florida as well as their recent technical residency at Velocity, Wallich says they would go back and look at the work, always taking parts out and adding things in. They finally reached a point where “there was nothing left to take out and nothing more to add.” As for the work’s title, it came from an earlier piece, but the group felt that they hadn’t truly gotten to the root of what Super Eagle was in its first iteration. In keeping the title throughout the creative process, Wallich says they were able to truly find “the essence of what we didn’t get to.” The piece also gained its almost sculptural focus from Wallich and Vago’s time at the Rauschenberg Residency where they were surrounded by visual artists. The dancers freeze in unexpected images, or repeat particular moments, letting them resonate thoroughly.
This space to develop and edit work is a huge gift to an artist, as the four of them agreed. “The Made in Seattle program is phenomenal,” says Wallich. Beyond artistic nurturing, the program also provided the group with technical and marketing support. It “gives you the mentorship and the tools,” she continued. “I feel prepared, and I know what to do for the next one. [And] it’s a safe space so I felt like we could take these risks for the most part. The time has given us space so that the choices we made, are the ones we really want to make.”
The three dancers are not Wallich’s only collaborators in this project. Super Eagle also features an original score by Lena Simon of the local bands KAIROS and Pollens, costumes by fashion designer Pierre Davis/NoSesso, and film by cinematographer Jacob Rosen. The buzz surrounding Super Eagle has been steadily building over the last few weeks, and high ticket demand prompted Velocity to add a fifth performance. In addition to shows at 8 PM Thursday through Sunday, there will also be a 10 PM performance on Saturday, February 15. Be sure to get tickets in advance as they’ll undoubtedly sell out.