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CO— SHOW 7

Jane Cracovaner. Photo by Allina Yang.

Gooey, supportive partnering emerges in the middle of a DJ set. Dancers Maia Melene D’urfé and Althea Alexander rotate like two planets that have just engulfed each other. The audience forms a semicircle around them as they merge. These converged dancers build spatially, maintaining shared weight through widespread lunges and expanded arms. Deep, ambient drones and crumbling rock sounds begin to infiltrate the soundtrack.

This work from the beloved Seattle floorwork method, Undercurrent, is part of a variety lineup in Show 7. Produced by CO— (headed by Emma Lawes and Maya Tacon), this performance is part of a long series of collaborative productions. These shows are usually held twice annually, featuring shorter works from a variety of genres that culminate in a big dance party at the end of the night. Alongside Undercurrent, Show 7 includes ATM, Jane Cracovaner, Jenna Eady, Jerrod, Majinn, P Nasty and Thomas House. 

Undercurrent dancers Leah Russell and Hilary Grumman raise their right arms, leading the crowd away from the main floor. Grumman, who is Undercurrent’s director as well as a dancer in this work, gracefully reaches wide and gestures in slow motion, gently clearing the crowd from the various protruding edges of Mutuus Studio to gather on the perimeter of the space. Unlike a traditional theater dance show, this performance has limited seating and relies on the audience to sit/squat/stand, moving around the areas of the Georgetown architecture firm.

P Nasty. Photo by Allina Yang.

The Undercurrent dancers break into two duets, weight sharing in slow motion before moving into the signature floorwork this group is known for. The choreography constantly reorients directions, holding a focused but flowing energy. Solos from each dancer close the work, highlighting their own personal style within the shared form. Grumman holds a headstand while drawing a full leg circle in the air–an extraordinary moment of control and strength. Undercurrent’s work emphasizes the collective skill of the cast.

P Nasty’s piece is quite fun and cheerful. Two performers in fishnets, gold hoops, and black shirts make their way to center stage as Lawes calls the crowd to fill in closer. They both have big smiles, but the smiles feel genuine rather than put on for a show. This duet keeps the energy high with their musicality and the fact that they really seem to enjoy dancing with one another. They play off of and acknowledge each other the whole time, drawing the audience in with their warmth.

Jane Cracovaner takes on the brave task of contemporary dance in Mary Jane shoes, alongside a button down, shorts, and wine colored lipstick. She emerges from the crowd like an alien that has just landed in a performance, taking in the setting with inquisitive gaze and puppet-like movement. The groovier moments of the work are some of the strongest, featuring impressive feats of inverted knees.

Rhythmic choreography and precise arms take center stage in Majinn’s work. The shifts in movement quality keep this work interesting, ranging from upbeat footwork to slow motion, detailed limbs. This work ends with Majjinn grabbing a freshly cracked beer from the bar, a sweet way to close out the piece and transition the audience into intermission.

The post-intermission acts carry on the same fervor as the first half of the show, keeping the momentum going with just as much variety as the beginning half. A standout piece is Jenna Eady’s. After a multi year hiatus from performance, Eady’s bio remarks that “Returning to creation feels like returning to self.” Watching them dance feels like watching them return to self in real time. Eady performs soft, gestural movements with feet tracing back and forth, encircling a table with dance partner Tariq Mitri. The work ebbs and flows, but all of it looks like movement that was made for them. It is special to watch someone perform work they look so at home in. 

Jenna Eady. Photo by Allina Yang.

Self described as a “book club that sometimes performs” ATM’s work is all in good fun. Performers The CLG and Hannah Simmons embark on a fitness-themed burlesque journey, complete with shared chewing gum, underwear jump rope sessions, and body oil straight to the sternum. It breaks up the show with lightheartedness while keeping the audience on their toes.

Jerrod’s work begins at the top of the oversized stair steps that occupy one wall of Mutuus Studio. Lighting casts a shadow of Jerrod and another dancer, Davii, on the wall, multiplying their movement before the duet transitions into the main floor. This fast and powerful hip-hop choreography keeps the audience engaged. The grounded quality of the movement further emphasizes the harder hits, amplifying all the best parts of the dance.

Jerrod. Photo by Allina Yang.

Beginning with a series of overemphasized faces and a theatrical display of arm shaking, Thomas House’s performance is a crowd favorite. House flips his palms up back and forth towards the ceiling, staring at them in a “THIS or THAT?” type of fashion. It is a playfully dramatized personal crisis. House references ballet without being tied to it. At one point he does a port de bra, but then he’s almost laughing at the port de bra in a kind of ballet satire. Similarly, the piece ends in a formal ballet bow and then swimming hands as House disappears into the hallway. House’s work is delightfully absurdist.

The size of the crowd and limitations of the space mean that for each audience member it is impossible to truly see the whole show. You might be front row to one piece, and then behind several heads in the next one. You can catch glimpses by adjusting your position, but the reality of no graduated seating and a large crowd is that you have to embrace missing parts of each work. It takes a release of the desire to “catch everything” to fully appreciate the show. I found myself at times worried about not seeing key details, but reminded myself that this is part of the design of the show. Many of the performances had a throughline that could be followed even if missing some components. These works opted for more repetitive, paced-out structures than ones that rely on a few significant moments.

As a whole, Show 7 is a love letter to the Seattle dance scene. Lawes and Tacon have a talent for curating artists and supporting them in performance together. The show ends with Fred again..’s latest release blasting through the speakers as the cast collectively bows and the audience sends them up the stairs with booming cheers. They whip ponytails and smile at us from above, ascending away to close out the night.

 

Show 7 took place on June 7, 2024 at Mutuus Studio. For more information on CO—, visit their website.