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Chamber Dance Company (University of Washington)

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In this week's Seattle Weekly, Sandra Kurtz (aka sandik) previews the current performances of Chamber Dance Company, the troupe founded by Hannah Wiley, head of the University of Washigton master's program in Dance. The program will feature work by Michio Ito.

And taking a clue from her academic environment, she began collecting a repertory focused on the history of modern dance. Since the ensemble gave its first performances in 1990, it has performed works by the big names—Duncan, St. Denis, Graham, and Humphrey among them—but has also pursued choreography from less-well-known artists who were just as influential in their time, but who don't have the same name recognition today. Identifying these works, and finding a way to get them staged, has made Wiley into something of a detective, searching for witnesses and clues to past times.

Michio Ito is one of those artists that Wiley has been searching for, a choreographer whose work in the 1920s was part of the early development of modern dance. Originally from Japan, he trained in eurythmy in Germany, but developed his own movement vocabulary when he came to the U.S. It includes the theatrical expressiveness that was so popular at the time, but it also reflects an austerity that likely comes from his own heritage. Ito never established an ongoing company here; so when he was deported back to Japan at the beginning of World War II, his work faded from the general memory.

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