Giving A Leg Up
BOOST Dance Festival 2014 – Year Five
4 April 2014, Erickson Theatre, Seattleby Dean Speer
I’ve really enjoyed going to Marlo Martin’s important initiative, her BOOST Dance Festival for the past few years and was disappointed by her pre-show announcement that she and it are taking a short hiatus for 2015 but will return in 2016. I know from personal experience that it’s a lot of work putting on something of this kind and so very much appreciate her sincere efforts. She observed that the original need behind the idea – giving up and coming choreographers a place and a voice – has waned as more and more venues and opportunities seem to have made themselves available recently.
Of year five’s edition, I found that the first half of the program was choreographically stronger yet with compelling and deep performances from all of the dancers throughout. Two dances had something to do with dreaming and being awake [the first and last dances], one was bright and cheery, while others were variously strange, disturbing or had dark themes.
“Rest-less” by Erica Badgeley found dancer Hallie Scott immersed in a huge cloth skirt that covered the entire stage area. Scott’s gestures were dramatic and Graham-like in their despair and as she gathered and pulled the voluminous fabric around her – and then fell back into it, we were treated to one of the few surprises of the evening – another dancer was under there with her, catching her and interacting with her unseen until the very end, when Fausto Rivera was revealed. A dance and concept that fit each other well.
“GO Stop Falling” began with unison high-energy running in place, with the torsos hunched over. Very strong opening but the dance became lost in itself partway through, as if it didn’t know how to sustain itself. A keeper, dance maker Maya Soto should consider editing and revising slightly to tighten it overall and to give a stronger ending with a clear arc throughout.
Kristen Legg continues to impress and amaze me with her facile use of the ballet and contemporary vocabularies. Her “Retrograde 93" [I have no idea what the title had to do with the dance] set to one movement of a Bach violin concerto, "Bist du Bei Mir" by Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel and a Bach partita for violin -- showcased five female dancers and their very high level of technical facility, training, and experience crafted into an excellent and entertaining dance – Karena Birk, Katy Hagelin, Christina Kennedy, Anna Waller and Laura Kay Young. Legg moves the dancers around well, nothing is static, and she gave us a very kinetic and joyous dance. A pleasure to watch and it certainly got my attention and lifted me up.
I never thought I’d see two of my former students [Jen Elder and Rebecca Greenfield] cast as bullies, but there they were in Michele Miller’s “I AM the Bully”which, as you might guess, was about exactly that, but more of the playground type of shoving and posturing. As the bullying was passed from one to another, it became transformative as the cast realized they had to change...and did. A strong dance that is just about the right length, given its subject matter.
After reading the title, “Papoose,” I was intrigued to see what duo choreographers/performers Jenny Peterson and Kaitlin McCarthy would do with it. Both wore hand-knit dresses and manipulated a very, very long knitted scarf. Not a depiction of what we think of in the Native American sense of papoose, but rather showed an inter-dependance and affiliation type that wasn’t exactly clear, but perhaps didn’t matter as they tumbled over each other, carried each other, and in an abstract and indirect way, cared for each other.
“Wake State post-lucid dream” painted the picture of dancers who seemed to be in another dimension. Marlo Martin used strong gesture and torso action to create this theme with and for her dancers, Martin being one herself in her piece. A little too long to sustain its ideas, it was also what we call “a chair piece” where, in this case, folding chairs were brought out for the concluding section of the dance and the dancers – with a predatory gleam in their eyes, came up into the audience, inviting members to occupy said chairs, telling us we wouldn’t have to do anything.
The full house – including those on stage at this point, collectively extended its appreciation for the good works and the inroad difference BOOST has made in its five years of producing dance.http://www.boostdancefestival.org/