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Originally published Friday, July 22, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Review: ARC Dance presents lively 'Summer Dance at the Center'

ARC Dance Company brings a full dance card to Seattle Center with "Summer Dance at the Center."

Seattle Times arts writer


'Summer Dance at the Center'

ARC Dance Company presents work by six choreographers, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Leo K. Theatre at Bagley Wright Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle; $18-$35 (206-352-0798 or
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It's always heartening when the newest works on a dance program are the most spirited.

ARC Dance Company's "Summer Dance at the Center," a showcase of six works by six choreographers, featured two world premieres that hit the sweet spot in utterly opposite ways.

"Wave Atlas," an intricate duet by Alex Ketley (director of The Foundry in San Francisco), traced a tangled, elastic romance, full of push-and-pull, give-and-take, evasion and embrace. Melissa Bourkas and Andrew Wojtal brought it to life tenderly and brilliantly, always keeping you uncertain about who held the stronger cards in this relationship. The duet's conclusion — an exact echo of its opening, with a role-reversal twist — made it all the more satisfying.

"Pastorale" was a goofy pas-de-quatre by Penny Hutchinson, a founding member of Mark Morris Dance Company. To the tick-tock rhythms of Haydn's "Clock Symphony," three tutu-clad nymphs gamboled through some playful scenery (a ball, a shrub, a giant puppy dog) until their dashing love interest (Geoffrey Kropp) deigned to notice them.

Attraction-repulsion sparks soon went off between Kropp and Lucie Baker, who in "repulsion" mode was hilarious, bringing drooping, hunchbacked contortions to her ever-so-precise ballet steps. Kropp, splendidly costumed in high 18th-century manner by Hutchinson, had fun too with an angular courting-call jig that was both robust and absurd.

The evening's opener, "No Regrets" by Marie Chong (director of ARC Dance Company), offered just as many pleasures. Set to alternately haunting and percussion-driven excerpts from Carl Orff's "Musik für Kinder," it smoothly spun nine dancers through every combination, from solo to full company.

Cameron Evans was especially fine in a solo flecked with hanging leaps and scythe-sharp kicks. Wojtal and Baker, paired in an intimate duet, verged on acrobatics in the way they mixed crouched embraces with keen vertical or horizontal leg extensions. The whole ensemble raced through the final section with a lithe and enlivening snap.

Jason Ohlberg's "Song of the Siren," originally set for male dancers, seems to be telling the tale of Ulysses' temptation at sea. Here, it featured three women instead — an odd choice.

Jason Ohlberg's "Song of the Siren," originally set for male dancers, seems to be telling the tale of Ulysses' temptation at sea, with its watery lighting and ocean horizon. Here, it featured three women instead — an odd choice.

But Wojtal shone as a soloist in Kirk Midtskog's "Earth and Sky," and Betsy Cooper's "The Space Between" — set to jazzy treatments of Bach by pianist Gabriela Montero — brought the night to a light and airy, if occasionally diffuse, close.

Michael Upchurch:

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