Seattle International Dance Festival looks both to home and overseas
The 10-day Seattle International Dance Festival/Beyond the Threshold opens Friday with performers from Switzerland, Germany and Africa, as well as a generous helping of talent from Seattle. The festival runs June 1-10, 2012.
Seattle Times arts writer
Seattle International Dance Festival: Beyond the ThresholdVarying times and venues June 1-10, with most events at Raisbeck Performance Hall, 2015 Boren Ave., Seattle; single tickets/series passes: $15-$50 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).
Over the past three years, Seattle International Dance Festival: Beyond the Threshold, which opens Friday, has become more and more a presence in the South Lake Union neighborhood. And the more South Lake Union grows and changes, the more it extends its presence in the 10-day festival.
This year, festival director Cyrus Khambatta has scouted three new outdoor locations in South Lake Union where site-specific dances will pop up Friday (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Saturday (noon-6 p.m.). They include two open-air plazas full of dance possibilities on Terry Avenue North between Thomas and Republican streets, along with a pingpong-table sculpture on Harrison Street near Terry.
That's in addition to two public spaces where performances have cropped up in recent years: McGraw Square (the downtown terminus of Seattle Streetcar) and 2200 Westlake Plaza at the corner of Denny. You never know what you'll see there: butoh dancers making short but epic slow-motion journeys from corner to corner; works inspired by Indian, African and Latin American tradition; samplings of contemporary dance that draw on every style from hip-hop to ballet.
The outdoor events are lures to draw audiences to more formal shows at Raisbeck Performance Hall, where an impressive lineup of international artists and local stars will perform.
On the international front, Switzerland's Compagnie 7273, a troupe with a highly rhythmical undulating movement language, appears Weekend One (June 1-3), along with Gansango, a West African dance company that will put a contemporary spin on traditional dance styles (Friday only). Note: Finland's Susanna Leinonen Company, featured on festival brochures, has had to cancel due to visa problems. Modern Indian dancer Astad Deboo is stepping in, performing a solo — "a slow metamorphosis out of a plastic cocoon" — that blends classical Indian Kathakali movement with modern-dance vocabulary.
Three midweek shows, collectively titled "Spotlight on Seattle," are a response to Khambatta asking three key figures in our local dance world, "What is your Seattle?"
Olivier Wevers, founder-director of Whim W'Him and a former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer, curates Tuesday's strong lineup, which includes Spectrum Dance Theater's not-to-be-missed "Euclidean Space," plus two antic takes on masculine competition: Khambatta's "Modern Barbarism" and Wevers' own "Flower Festival."
On Wednesday, Velocity Dance Center director Tonya Lockyer oversees an evening-length tribute to choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott and Scott/Powell Performance. Scott's 2002 piece "Praying Mantis" will be revived, and former Scott/Powell dancers will create new works drawing from specific Scott/Powell passages or making a more general homage to the Scott/Powell style. Kirkland Performance Center director Dan Mayer turns the spotlight on rising talents on Friday.
Closing weekend (June 8-10) reverts to international mode, with Liz Erber/Urfluss (a former Seattleite who now has her own troupe in Germany) sharing the bill with Khambatta Dance Company.
"Hey!" you might say. "Isn't Khambatta local?"
True — but his closing-weekend piece, "India Calling," reflects his dual Indian-American parentage and features a score by Indian veena-player/vocalist Nirmala Rajasekar in collaboration with cellist-composer Michelle Kinney.
More details on the festival, including a late-night "Sanity Cafe" on June 9, can be found at www.SeattleIDF.org.
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com