Olympia-born choreographer Daniel Linehan comes home
After years of performing all over Europe, Olympia-born dancer-choreographer Daniel Linehan brings his signature work, “Not About Everything,” and a new piece, “The Karaoke Dialogues,” to Seattle, Sept. 12-14, 2013.
Seattle Times arts writer
8 p.m. Thursday-Sept. 14, Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $12-$18 (206-325-8773 or www.velocitydancecenter.org).
In the last nine years, Olympia-born dancer-choreographer Daniel Linehan has performed in New York, Brussels, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Istanbul and dozens of other cities.
One place he hasn’t performed, though, is in his native Washington state.
That changes next week when Linehan brings his signature solo work, “Not About Everything” (2007) and creates a new piece for multiple dancers, “The Karaoke Dialogues: Seattle Trial,” to Velocity Dance Center. It will be the first time the 30-year-old dancer has appeared on a stage in Seattle since he graduated from the University of Washington dance program in 2004.
What to expect?
Time Out London describes his work as “part New York hipster smarts, part European conceptual rigor.” Much of it fuses movement with voice until they seem one and the same.
The action in “Not About Everything,” the piece that put him on the dance-scene radar, is simplicity itself: a spin that continues for 30 minutes as Linehan explains what the dance is not about: “This is not about everything. ... This is not about therapy. ... This is not about endurance.”
All the while, the spin undergoes shifts in speed and position (arms sometimes up, arms sometimes down) as Linehan’s voice — both live and recorded — starts altering its accents on repeated words and phrases.
What feels like repetition, at first, yields to subtle rhythmic changes in text or spin action, with results that are both intense and perversely funny. (Linehan likes a good paradox.)
Calling last week from Olympia, where he was visiting his family, he recalled the restless appetite he brought to performance during his student years, starting with ballet and theater in high school, and leading, in his second year at the University of Washington, to his decision to focus on dance.
“At the UW, I had great teachers,” he says, “but I felt somehow like I was really hungry for lots of different information from different people and different sources.”
Dancer-choreographer Mark Haim, who had lived and worked in New York and Europe before coming to the UW, inspired Linehan to try New York himself. There, he found himself creating short works that would be performed once and then dropped, as he moved on to the next thing.
“Not About Everything” was the last piece he created in New York before going to study at Brussels’ Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S.) in 2008.
P.A.R.T.S., closely associated with Belgium’s leading cultural center La Monnaie/De Munt (where Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot is chief opera-house conductor), gave Linehan a chance to do something he hadn’t been able to do in New York: Create work and then dig deeply into it, allowing it to grow with repeated performances over a period of months or years.
From his new Brussels base, Linehan’s career took off. He’s midway through a two-year gig as “New Wave Associate” at London’s Sadler’s Wells, is currently an “Artiste Associé” at deSingel (an arts center in Antwerp) and was named artist-in-residence at the Opéra de Lille (France) in January. A look at his touring schedule since he graduated from P.A.R.T.S. in 2010 makes your head spin.
Europe, he says, offers “a lot more opportunities for performance and residency.” It helps that Brussels is in easy traveling distance of other major cultural centers.
That said, he doesn’t know how long his luck in Europe will last. “The financial crisis in Europe is definitely a real thing. ... In the Netherlands they’ve recently cut arts funding by 40 percent.”
In Belgium, he adds, he’s still able to find funding for his projects: “But it’s not like a sure thing that this will last forever.”
“The Karaoke Dialogues,” his latest project, combines words and movement as dancers repeat text that appears, karaoke-style, on a video monitor. It’s not your standard pop-music fare, however. Instead, it’s excerpts from Kafka’s “The Trial” and Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”
Linehan’s aim is to take literary texts and use them as a musical score, pushing him to come up with movement rhythms and phrases different from what he might otherwise choose.
While he’s here, he’ll also be checking out the local dance scene.
“I’m quite curious,” he says. “I’m sure that a lot has changed since I’ve been here. I’m really excited to meet the people and see what they’re working on and thinking about.”
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org