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Originally published Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:03 AM

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Fantastical dance antics ahead with Lelavision, ‘Next Fest NW’

Look for some eclectic dance/physical theater offerings this weekend with Lelavision’s “Heavy Metal DëVices” (Dec. 14-15, 2013) and Velocity Dance Center’s “Next Fest NW 2013: Touch” (Dec. 13-15, 2013).

Seattle Times arts writer

Performance preview

Lelavision: ‘Heavy Metal DëVices’

8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle; $15-$20 (206-682-1414 or

‘Next Fest NW 2013: Touch’

8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $12-$18 (206-325-8773 or

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Expect some unusual dance, sound and visual spectacle on at least two fronts this weekend.

At the Moore Theatre, Vashon Island troupe Lelavision debuts an expanded version of “Heavy Metal DëVices,” a show that offers plenty of fun for adults and children alike. And Velocity Dance Center’s annual “Next Fest NW” kicks in with a more adult theme, “Touch,” which has elicited genre-bending work from half a dozen local choreographers.

Lelavision’s “DëVices,” built by Ela Lamblin, combines musical instruments, dance costumes and playground seesaws/merry-go-rounds/jungle gyms into one package.

In a 2010 interview, Lamblin credited his father with starting him on his DëVice-building path. When he was 6 years old, he said, he wanted his parents to buy him some toys.

His father’s response: “I won’t buy you any toys, but I’ll help you build whatever you want.”

“He really followed through,” Lamblin recalls. “He helped me make my own toys out of cardboard and stuff that was available. And that really stayed with me all the way through my life — that notion of creating it myself.”

Lamblin’s wife and artistic partner, choreographer Leah Mann, puts Lamblin’s contraptions into action by cooking up dance and acrobatic routines that are physical theater at its best.

The names of the instruments alone — the Teetertone, the Violcano, the Metalphor, the Pandemonium — hint at the fantastical worlds Lamblin and Mann concoct together. Each one, they note, is inspired by archetypal forms: a spiral, a wave, a circle, a flower.

Velocity’s “Next Fest NW: Touch” explores its chosen theme from a variety of angles. Dylan Ward offers “an intergenerational dance project exploring the line between appropriate and inappropriate touch.” An outfit called GENDER TENDER will perform a duet in a single elastically expanding jock strap.

The most intriguing piece may be “30 unsure steps to my seat” by Coleman Pester/Tectonic Marrow Society, which frames the entire evening.

On arrival at Velocity, audience members will be invited to have a blindfolded experience with one of Pester’s dancers. I tried this out at a rehearsal last weekend and found it a fascinating experience. Dancer Erica Badgeley and then Pester himself gently led me through a sightless twisting/turning exploration of sound, space and one very basic dance maneuver that asked for a small amount of trust.

The actual piece, which closes the show, again involves blindfolds. For its first seven minutes, you hear the piece, but don’t see it. Then, in its last two-thirds, with blindfolds down, you get to see what you’ve heard. You may even feel a flicker of muscle memory when you observe certain moves.

Originally from the Bay Area, Pester trained at California’s Dominican University in a dance program allied with Alonzo King LINES Ballet School. After graduating, he moved to Australia, where he assisted choreographer Anouk van Dijk in creating her first piece as artistic director of Chunky Move.

Pester moved to Seattle four months ago, drawn here, he says, by “the size of the dance community here and the resources here. ... I really feel, in comparison to the other cities I’ve been based in, Seattle has a lot to offer.”

“30 unsure steps,” with its movement that fuses plunges, extensions and swirls into headlong, ever-unexpected combinations, marks Pester as a welcome addition to the local dance scene.

Michael Upchurch:

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