Boost Dance Festival
Erickson Theatre, Seattle
22 March 2013
by Dean Speer
Marlo Martin and Kristen Legg’s self-professed raison d’etre for pulling together the Herculean feat of a festival is to provide opportunities for artists to show their wares. Their annual BOOST Dance Festival does just that and nicely, too. In a space that's just right [defined in Seattle as ample parking nearby, close to the bus lines and in a trendy neighborhood, plus being the right size], BOOST draws an ample and interested crowd of onlookers, some of whom were making their modern dance concertizing debut.
If I had to choose one word or phrase to characterize this year’s edition, it would have to be tribal. Specifically, tribal women. The tone of this was set by the opening piece, an excerpt from choreographer Maya Soto’s “Declaration of War” and which pretty much continued throughout the evening, with the exception of the second section of Legg’s “An Irritating Cerebral Itch” [also an excerpt from a larger work].
The first movement of Legg’s piece was of a strange world yet the second section shed both its costumes [or in one case, put one on] and its lugubrious weight and became filled with light and energetic dancing, using an inventive fusion of ballet steps and sequences in bright and fresh ways.
Soto’s work was costumed in long, lush black dresses which the dancers first removed from one of their own – perhaps a sacrificial victim of an ancient rite, and then engaged in movement warfare.
“murTOWN” by Sarah Kathryn Olds/SERENDIP was also ritualistic and, by coincidence, also costumed in long black dresses [these however with a red hem trim] including one for the lone male dancer of the evening. Three dancers in the background served as a corps de ballet or Greek Chorus while the male partnered downstage with one of the females. However, the trio never interacted with the duo and they seemed to have no relation to each other. It started out well, teasing us with the male dancer “hiding” behind his partner, but overall the work didn’t go anywhere and flat-lined out. Olds needs to re-work and better develop her motif and give it a stronger conclusion.
After so many dance dresses, it was nice to have the refreshment of what I might call a “slacks trio” and its remarkable dancers – Becca Blackwell, Jana Kinci, and Emma Klein. Choreographer Michele Miller’s “What We Have,” while giving off a sense of ritual, was filled with mostly very sharp, aggressive ensemble work that continued throughout the work.
Another trio, Anna Conner’s “A Nest in Luna,” used extended repetition of its opening motif of the three women – Conner, Deborah Corrales, and Julia Cross – in a straddle-wide second position with a rolling of a shoulder and the torso which broke out into two dancers repeating a whipping of the head with the third dancer echoing nearby. A fierce dance indeed.
Remarkable and very memorable was “erica” [sub titled ‘a duet’] by Elia Mrak made use of the classic ballroom dance ‘frame’ as its premise and then took off and built from there. Dancer Erica Badgeley amazed us with just how physical and extended [stamina] dance can be...and is. Taking the upper body twist of the frame-hold, choreographer Mrak used this turning feeling and developed it into a series of twisting and backward runs, rolls, gradual leaps [all on the right leg] and then a quick return to the opening theme to wrap things up. An hourglass was used as a prop, which Badgeley turned over both to begin and to conclude. An interesting conceit as while it did suggest a timed and judged ballroom competition, the solo went beyond the sands in the glass [using something like this invited looking, after all], so you have to think, partly, what’s the point? If any single, solo dance may be described as intense, this would define it.
The Festival evening concluded with founder Marlo Martin’s [of badmarmarDANCE] presenting a very strong group of female dancers – some of the best of the modern dance scene in Seattle, costumed in various black leotards, and short plastic warm-up trunks, used various and a mix of motifs including shared weight and partnering, shooting oneself across and low to the floor and others that seem to be in vogue.
BOOST this year had very strong dancers but, overall, was not quite as strong, choreographically, as previous editions. This is part of the ebb and flow – the nature – of the business. Some dances are stronger than others and a dance’s success is often hard to gauge or predict while in the process of putting it together.
Both Martin and Legg are to be commended for indeed providing an important opportunity for area dancers and choreographers to give voice to their creations.