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Relay Dance Collective is preparing for their performance this weekend at their new stomping ground, Yaw Theater in Georgetown, the inaugural performance for Relay in the space. They’ve curated quite a lineup for this weekend’s performance, including both locally-known choreographers and relative new-comers. To get a glimpse into this diverse program, entitled Passage, SeattleDances checked in with each choreographer about the inspiration and process behind their upcoming work, as told in their own words. 

Dancers Stella Kutz and Austin Sexton in Sara Jinx's work. Photo: Gabrielle Gainor.
Dancers Stella Kutz and Austin Sexton in Sara Jinks’s Waiting Room. Photo: Gabrielle Gainor.

Sara Jinks: Waiting Room is about that awkward, uncomfortable feeling you feel while sitting on a sterile couch in the doctor’s foyer. Perhaps you distractedly flip through a trashy magazine or sip from a dixie cup while sitting next to a complete stranger, worrying about your lab results or even noisily contemplating the stranger’s lab results. In Waiting Room, a standard pedestrian scene morphs into an expression of the unease and the nuisance of having to wait, and culminates is the strangers discovering their shared discomfort. They ease their isolation and impatience by taking care of one another. They check reflexes, look for lice, for scoliosis, for anything to reassure themselves that they are in the clear. A version of this piece was originally created with Baylie Peplow for a Methow Dance Collective performance at the Merc Theater in Twisp, WA.


Imana Gunawan: spun sugar loosely references the board game Candy Land. With a musical score composed by New York-based artist Dylan Greene as a guide, the dancers all have to reach the finish line while continuously having to tackle objects, tasks, and changing landscapes. This concept came about because I’ve been thinking about the idea of excess lately—what it means, to whom that label applies and why, who gets to be considered the default, and who gets to bear the burden of the “excess” of that default. So from that idea, I wanted to create a world that’s excessive, feminine, and kind of zany. It’s like everything but the kitchen sink— think velvet, heels, bubbles, and colorful plastic balls. Though the eventual outcome of the game is consistent, the path to get there will always change with each show, so each time the “players” go through the “game” will be a different experience. spun sugar is a whimsical, extravagant, and hyper-textural world where survival and endurance are also considered acts of joy. If it fails, it fails fabulously.

Randy Ford, Chris Engelbrecht, Ayako Shapiro in Imana Gunawan's spun sugar. Photo by Tess Wendyl.
Randy Ford, Chris Engelbrecht, Ayako Shapiro in Imana Gunawan’s spun sugar. Photo: Tess Wendel.

Amy J Lambert: Incase Anyone Comes Searching (2011) is a loose narrative dance-portrait of early 20th century European families. With a sense of strong community these characters grapple with dislocation of home, loneliness, and eventually arrive with a notion that home is where you are together. Spunky and soulful Klezmer music shifts us through highs and lows. The dancers perform themselves in these “characters from the past,” integrating their own stories and imaginations into their performances. This work was originally created for Cornish College of the Arts’ BFA Thesis Project in 2011. Featuring music by Dave Taras Orchestra/The Yiddish Radio Project  and Kroke the movement and images in this work were inspired by photographs of 20th century European families between the two World Wars, French poet Charles Baudelaire’s essay “The Salon of 1846: On the Heroism of Modern Life,” and the character and passion of Klezmer music.


Mark J Kane: Of Passion You Have Plenty is a jazzy, visually striking work for five dancers originally part of an evening-length work created for Spectrum Dance Theater in 1996. Resetting the work on Relay is former Spectrum dancer Rhonda Cinotto, who was a cast member in one of the original iterations of the work. When ARC Dance Theater performed Passion in 2014, Laurel Dix of SeattleDances wrote: “Mark J. Kane’s look at gender roles, Of Passion You Have Plenty, was the meatiest piece on the program, and also the starkest. From the harsh opening glow on a pacing Jenna Nelson, to all five dancers thrusting their hands out to the audience, it vibrated with caged frustration as dancers engaged in a lethal stare-down with the audience … when confined to the bounds of a spotlight each dancer was able to probe the fullness of his or her own limbs.”

Katie Wyeth, Lauren Linder, Hailey Burt, and Drew Santoro in Anna Krupp's Huckleberry Friend. Photo courtesy of Hailey Burt.
Katie Wyeth, Lauren Linder, Hailey Burt, and Drew Santoro in Anna Krupp’s Huckleberry Friend. Photo courtesy of Hailey Burt.

Anna Krupp: Huckleberry Friend delves into the intense, often fabricated, world of performance. The piece was created in attempt to unravel the curtain and reveal the vulnerabilities, the triumphs, the stress, and the ever-fluctuating confidence of performing in front of a live audience. I experimented with structure, posture, gaze, sound, and literal elevation as tools to expose the mixture of emotions that exist as an artist. I was fortunate to have Nico Tower create a textured and quite provocative sound score to complement the content of the piece. Huckleberry Friend is a tribute to my continual curiosity of the performer/audience power dynamic, and the push to break through the spectacle of movement and create an authentic connection.

Brenna Monroe-Cook: During the time surrounding the creation of this Armament(s), I have been contemplating the different ways in which we protect ourselves in times of upheaval, challenge, and fear; how we armor ourselves in order to confront those things we must face either in ourselves or in the world around us. Further, I’ve been interested in redefining the idea of being “armed” and wanted to explore more subtle (yet powerful) ways in which arming can happen – through spending time in solitude, through close examination of the thing we are confronting, through asserting our voice and strength, through our grieving, through compassion both given and received, and through finding solidarity and community.

Amber Jackson, Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, Elizabeth Sugawara, Chris Engelbrecht, Katherine Freeman, Constanze Villines and Austin Sexton in Amy J Lambert's. Photo: Diana Cardiff.
Amber Jackson, Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, Elizabeth Sugawara,
Chris Engelbrecht, Katherine Freeman, Constanze Villines and Austin
Sexton rehearsing Amy J Lambert’s In Case Anyone Comes Searching. Photo: Diana Cardiff.

Holly Logan: Shrinking Women is about the investigation every woman goes through when looking at her upbringing and those who came before her. It’s a process that has to happen in order to learn how to identify yourself as a woman. Shrinking Women is an exploration using both movement and voice meant to bring the audience on the journey with the soloist, Tess Wendel (2 &7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday) who alternates with Diadra Smith (7:30 p.m., Friday & Saturday) with the aim that we can all gain the courage to ask and challenge notions of equality and gender.


Austin Sexton: Inspiration for Reaching came from a sculpture titled “Love” by Alexander Milov. The sculpture depicts two adults sitting back to back after an argument with their inner children reaching out towards each other, trying to connect. Reaching is about trying to find resolution when you feel you can no longer reach someone. It is about the decision you have to make when you discover that someone you love does not have the same moral standards as you, of whether or not to keep them in your life. The inner child represents their past and history, their love for each other, and their own morals. When you love someone but feel that their morals are so different from yours, how do you move on? There is no right answer. You will see the dancers in this piece go back and forth many times. You will see them searching for answers when there are none. You will see hope, joy, disappointment, sadness and longing, all as these dancers search for a way to reach each other.

Catch Relay’s show, Passage, this weekend: Friday, March 31 at 7:30pm, Saturday, April 1 at 2:oopm and 7:30pm, and Sunday, April 2 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. For more information and tickets, go to