Striking new dances power Spectrum show
Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater introduces striking new works by Donald Byrd, Amy O'Neal and Zoe Scofield — and revives a frenzied, sexy 1990s classic by Byrd.
Special to The Seattle Times
Spectrum Dance Theater"Studio Series I: Seattle Moves!" repeats 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Meydenbauer Center, 11100 N.E. Sixth Ave., Bellevue, $20; 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Madrona Dance Studio, 800 Lake Washington Blvd., Seattle, $18 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com; information, www.spectrumdance.org).
Dance Review |
Saturday's windstorm knocked out half the power at Spectrum Dance Theater's Madrona Dance Studio — but the show went on. And even with a compromised lighting scheme, the power of the dances came through.
Indeed, by the end of the evening, the dancing was the electricity.
The premiere of Donald Byrd's "Klavierstucke" was one highlight of the night. Set to piano music by Brahms (who described the tunes as "lullabies of my sadness"), the piece created an intricate tension between the composer's wistful keyboard meanderings and the more desperate drive of the dancers. Graceful or dainty moves borrowed from classical ballet acquired a frenetic perversity, as if the performers were trying to cram more fulfillment into the music than the dreamy notes could possibly accommodate. In a series of duos, trios and larger groupings, the dancers found ever more inventive ways of yanking richly contradictory meanings from the piano score.
All the performers had fine moments, but Lara Seefeldt's solo work was especially striking — and a little scary. The flourishes of Brahms clearly weren't going to leave her happy. Newcomers to Spectrum, Kylie Lewallen and Marissa Quimby, did impressive floor work. And a trio in which Seefeldt and Patrick Pulkrabek were shadowed and intercepted by Scott Bartell had a wonderful sex-sinister edge to it. Throughout, Byrd drew on every muscle, bone and hair of his dancers as his canvas.
"Seattle Moves!" also introduced new work by local choreographers Amy O'Neal and Zoe Scofield. O'Neal's "back it up," set to assorted hip-hop numbers, started on a casual note, with dancers in sweats drifting onto the stage, doing stretches and sit-ups. Kick in the music, and they launched into choral athletics. In a series of "dance-off" duets, one performer would shape, even "coerce," the actions of another. Ty Cheng brought the thing to a glorious end with a breakdancelike coda.
Scofield's "Old girl" was colder and more fragmentary, both in movement and musical score. Yet certain motifs — a sway in loose embrace, a stiff-legged frontward jump — appeared and reappeared, gradually bringing a unity to its shrapnel edges. Hannah Lagerway was the star here, whether airborne on the shoulders of a shifting cluster of dancers, or bringing the piece to a biting close with an anxious-eyed solo.
The high-voltage finale (no lights needed!) was a revival of Byrd's 1993 work, "Sentimental Cannibalism," originally part of a three-act show called "Bristles." Starting with square-dance motifs set to percussion-heavy techno music, Byrd ramped the thing up and up until his dancers reached a war-of-the-sexes frenzy, with halos of sweat flinging off them.
Byrd, in a chat after the performance, talked of bringing the full-length "Bristles" to Spectrum next year. Let's hope he does.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com
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