Weaving A Story
Timothy Lynch’s Threads – A Journey Of Boys Who Dance
Sunday, 20 October 2013
Broadway Performance Hall, Seattle
by Dean Speer
A lecture based on his more than 10 years of experience teaching ballet to boys at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Timothy Lynch presented and performed in “Threads: A Journey of Boys who Dance,” on Sunday, October 20 at Seattle’s Broadway Performance Hall, showcasing his choreography that featured an all-male cast and which was described as “...A Master’s thesis lecture/performance bringing boys that [sic. who] dance to the forefront.”
For the past year and half Lynch has been attending the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in pursuit of his Master’s degree in dance. He began his research with boys last year, documenting and investigating his 100+ boys at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Tim states that he threads his own personal journey from young trainee to professional dancer to dance educator and that he uses this experience to spotlight his interest in his students’ physical and technical development, their camaraderie, and having a male educator as a role model.
Lynch was quoted:“My hope is that dance becomes mainstream, and that all boys who want to dance would pursue it as they would any other sport and be supported by their families, teachers, and peers, not just in Seattle, but throughout the nation. I am passionate about teaching... Seeing my students achieve great things fuels me to keep learning and continue to root for them.”
I enjoyed the program and would say that he was mostly successful. I would only have changed a couple of things, principally for clarification. For example, it opened with Lynch walking onto the stage looking as if he was fussing with one of those lapel microphones when, in actuality, he was sewing men’s ballet slippers. Timing is everything and this need not have been a mis-conception if he’d verbally told us up front what he was doing and, more significantly, the importance of it, having assumed we collectively knew the significance and the perpetual task of sewing ballet slippers, perhaps saying something like, “All dancers, men, women, and boys have to learn how to and sew their own ballet slippers. It’s like a rite of passage and a task that you do for your entire career.” After a bit he did launch into an interesting family story of how his grandfather inculcated, through teaching him how to thread a needle, “You need to be prepared for anything." Perhaps to have done the verbal story and the showing of the sewing concurrently might have been best.
I would have liked to have seen more examples of the difference in training between the younger crowd and the nearly professional-level men we got to enjoy at the end of the show. How did they get there? I know how, but Lynch should assume there are those in the audience who don’t - and the rest of us would have liked being reminded through demonstration. He did tell us a good example of the differences between how girls like to move and boys.
Overall, the program could have been a bit tighter and edited somewhat. Those are my principal fusses. What I really liked and enjoyed was the use of multi levels and ages and experiences. Most of the boys were from PNB but not all, including a nice handful from the Creative Dance Center.
One of the best pieces of student choreography I’ve ever seen was his, which depicted a boy being isolated and picked on by his peers, but who come around and include them ultimately in their group. Well-crafted, a “chair” piece with the boys costumed in white shirts and ties, it suggested a formal private school setting and began with a simple left foot gesture and this theme built as the dance progressed. “Social Exclusion” is a good work and should be seen again.
Everyone were most thoroughly charmed by the interspersed video clip interviews some of the boys gave about the benefits of dance training and of their experiences. All guffawed when one youngster commented that his response to a school chum might be, “I was in the newspaper...and you weren’t!”
Lynch’s dance with his two sons – “Male Bonding”– was well-crafted, with each taking their common and shared motifs and building these into a nice dance.
The program’s climax was an excerpt, the last movement,from the 2013 PNB School Performance that was originally for most men’s levels – shown in both in a rehearsal and performance video excerpt, but here for the most advanced ones, happily showing us that they can do – which is considerable.
Lynch is clearly devoted to the craft of teaching, learning, and how the skills of imparting knowledge can best and most effectively be passed along from generation to generation.
About the presenter:
Timothy Lynch received his dance training from the School of American Ballet. He joined Pacific Northwest Ballet and performed in more than 60 ballets from 1993 to2003. He joined the faculty of Pacific Northwest Ballet School in 2003 and continues to choreograph and help shape its men’s program. Tim received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in dance from Cornish College of the Arts in 2005, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Tim has been guest faculty at Cornish College of the Arts, University of Washington, and Western Washington University. He founded Seattle Dance Project in 2007, a non-profit organization, where he’s both artistic director and dancer. He earned the KOMO Kids First Award for mentoring local youth in 2011, and in 2012 was honored as Dance Educator of the Year by the Dance Educators Association of Washington. Tim is committed to his outreach education program and continues to provide dance education to local public school children. He’s now pursuing graduate studies in Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he was granted an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship for a second year.