Seattle Dance Project

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For those of us who love PNB dancers of the past, this week's performances by the Seattle Dance Project will not only give us a thrilling look at some of our favorite dancers from the past, but also some of the other incredible dancers who also make their home in the Seattle area. Seattle Dance Project is composed of 10 dancers:

Julie Tobiason

Timothy Lynch

Alexandra Dickson

Dana Hanson

Kory Perigo

Oleg Gorboulev

Michele Curtis

Melanie Skinner

Betsy Cooper

Joseph Anderson

Project Two will be performed on 1/22, 23, 24 at ACT's Fall Theater and will consist of 4 new works by:

Kiyon Gaines

Heidi Vierthaler

Edwaard Liang

Maureen Whiting

Tickets can be purchased from ACT:

For more info see my post in the Heads Up BT subforum:

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Seattle Dance Project (SDP) had its opening last night for its latest program: Project Two.

I highly encourage anyone within driving distance of downtown Seattle to find a way to attend either tonight or Saturday night's performances. This program is remarkable, danced by remarkable dancers, in a remarkable space. You don't want to miss this.

In terms of people, last night was a sort of "PNB reunion". Nearly all the dancers at one time or other have been a member of PNB (from students to principal dancers). Scattered throughout the audience were many current PNB dancers (Arianna Lallone, Josh Spell, Jordon Pacitti, and others), as well as previous Directors of PNB Kent Stowell and Francia Russell -- each hugging one old acquaintance after another. Even one of the 4 featured choreographers is a PNB member (Kiyon Gaines).

The dancing was exhilarating. Frankly, I can't imagine that one could see a small company of seasoned professionals at this level of high quality dancing, doing pieces of such creativity and diversity, anywhere in the country except maybe in NYC. SDP is performing in the well respected ACT Theater in the Convention Center (Falls Theater -- click here to see photo). It is an intimate setting seating 400 where many in the audience could literally reach out and touch a dancer if they had wished. Seeing this caliber of dance in such close proximity is a remarkable experience all by itself.

There were 4 pieces: 3 of which were world premieres. Maureen Whiting's "Self and Other/Chopin Etudes" was a marriage of dance and music, but done with a dramatist's eye, and with its roots firmly in the modern idiom. That Whiting had the courage to take on Chopin is a measure of her willingness to put herself "out there". Next came Edwaard Liang's "Flight of Angels". This is the first piece Liang ever choreographed. He staged it on SDP last year while he was in Seattle staging his "Fur Alina" for PNB's 2007/2008 season. It's a haunting piece evocative of "relationship" without being literal. After the intermission, we saw Heidi Vierthaler's "Surfacing". I've never seen anything like it. Vierthaler has clearly been influenced by her one time mentor William Forsythe, but she takes his unorthodox movement to even fuller extremes. I was strongly reminded of Forsythe's "One Flat thing, Reproduced" (done in both of PNB's last 2 seasons) except Vierthaler's piece added character and humanity to create less an athletic display and more a display of souls lost in a world they don't really understand. To use Vierthaler's own words: she is exploring "all the in-between places" a classically trained dancer's body goes as it moves from one classically defined position to another. It left me saying, "I don't believe what I just saw". The program closed with Kiyon Gaines's "Altogether....Different". What a great piece to finish with. It has all the energy, inventiveness, playfulness, and freshness we, who are lucky enough to see his works done for PNB, have come to appreciate. In my estimation, Kiyon Gaines will one day be a well known choreographer. His talent is undeniable. His works are so classical at their heart, but at the same time have such a contemporary spirit. I hesitate to make this comparison, but Gaines makes me think of Balanchine in the way his movement derives from the music (and what an eclectic choice of 4 pieces of music for this 4 act piece). The old rubric "see the music" is easily applied to Gaines. "Altogether....Different" is pure delight.

Go see this program if you possibly can. This program is truly an opportunity for the dance/ballet lover as much as it is an opportunity for this young company.

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FYI, here is Seattle Post Intelligencer's (one of the two Seattle daily newspapers) excellent review of this program.

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