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Delicate dance of collaboration
Special to The Seattle Times
On the Boards' weekend bill is an exciting one, featuring two up-and-coming Northwest choreographers whose performances are excellent examples of the current collaborative trend in modern dance.
Zoe Scofield's "there ain't no easy way out" reveals how seamless and exquisite such collaboration can be. The opening image, crafted by Seattle-based video installation artist Juniper Shuey, is so spooky and entrancing it would be a shame to spoil it. It simply must be seen. These first moments promise an innovative artistic feast, and that promise is kept through the final curtain.
Scofield's ballet training is reflected in the precision and long lines of her movement, but the impact of her work comes from somewhere much deeper (and much darker). How else could she turn regurgitation into such a beautiful gesture? The seven dancers exhibit astonishing grace and gangly ugliness, and an understanding of how the two depend upon each other.
Winged creatures are everywhere in Scofield's work: flicky legs and twitchy heads; a gaping, skyward mouth; flocks moving in sudden unison. The avian vibe is accentuated by Chrissy Wai-Ching's gorgeous costuming, including fluttering kimonos, iridescent bustiers and flouncy skirts.
And Morgan Henderson (of The Blood Brothers) has crafted a haunting score that rivals the best movie soundtracks.
Also on the bill is "Island Desk: my teeny tiny knowledge of nothing," choreographed by Portland's Tahni Holt, who shares equal billing with conceptual artist Marty Schnapf. Indeed, the scene Schnapf sets is impressive. Rolling white angular walls sketch a typical workplace, including a modular "desk" that is dismantled during the piece, as well as a much-visited water cooler.
In costumes (by Jayme Hansen) that cleverly meld Banana Republic with the Starship Enterprise, the five dancers enact office drama at its most physical. Over the course of a five-segment business week , the workers flop and flail with oddly jutted hips and the cruelly twisted limbs of cerebral palsy, engaging in office romance, enforced teamwork and malaise.
Split Bill, On the Boards, Thursday night
The movement is powerful and raw and compelling, which is why the segment in which one of the walls is placed directly in front of the audience is frustrating. It's clearly an experiment with restricted viewpoint, but considering how hard it is to draw audiences to modern dance, why deliberately obscure it from those who show an interest?
Split Bill: Zoe Scofield with Juniper Shuey and Morgan Henderson: "there ain't no easy way out"; and Tahni Holt's Monster Squad and Marty Schnapf: "Island Desk: my teeny tiny knowledge of nothing," On the Boards, 8 tonight; $12-$18 (www.ontheboards.com).
The music, by Brent Knopf, features lovely, melancholy piano alternating with catchy pop guitar, but the jarring changes between segments feel unprofessional — as if a stagehand were hastily jabbing buttons on a boom box. It's an unfortunate distraction from a piece that contains many visual delights.
Brangien Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company