Seven and A Half Children; 16 Legs; 80 Fingers; Singular Vision
Seattle Dance Project’s “Project One!”
26 January 2008, ACT Theatre, Seattle
by Dean Speer
Tout le monde showed up for the Saturday night’s Seattle Dance Project’s “Project One!” performance. Seattle’s “dance people” can really get excited and get behind things, as they have with Julie Tobiason and Timothy Lynch’s new initiative, the Seattle Dance Project.
Amongst the performers, they have seven plus children, eight pairs of legs, over 125 years of collective dance experience, yet share the single vision that Tobianson and Lynch have – that of providing a means for local dancers to experience dances created especially for them. In this case, choreographed by four of Seattle’s active dance-makers and dancers.
The Artistic Directors did many smart things: planning well in advance; making use of technology; looking to the future already and not just one project; and importantly, being brave and courageous. It takes a lot to put on a show. A lot came in the guise of patrons providing key financial support plus quite a few others providing goods and services.
Olivier Wevers’ “Still One” shows this up-and-coming choreographer to have matured even more and one who is understanding how to make effective use of a single motif and develop it. I was sorry that Dana Hanson was out due to injury but was most pleased that Linnette Hitchin was able to come up from San Diego and perform. She looks so good that it’s hard to believe she retired from PNB as a full-time Principal several years ago. She should be performing and it was great to see her back doing this gig.
“Castor” by Molissa Fenley had a dramatic undertone, and as a whole, was probably the most effective on the program.
Needing a third section to conclude it, Donald Byrd’s “Tatum Dance #2" used a delightful mix of ballet vocabulary and ballroom. The first section was zany and playful and particularly showed off Tobiason and Lynch. The second section was more angst-ridden with Alexandra Dickson and Oleg Gorboulev joining the mix. These first two needed a concluding section, as the work just stops with the darker dance. Something to pull it all together to give it a “tonic-chord” resolution would have made it a great dance.
“The Intimacy of Strife” by Pat Catterson was kind of a “Debbie-downer” work to send the audience out into the January cold on, with five of the seven dancers heaped on the floor and the other two in dramatic, isolated pose.
Choreographically, each work could have benefitted from its creator making use of ensemble work – and by this I don’t mean having everyone on stage at the same time making unison movement (which did happen). I mean someone making a true ensemble dance with these eight talented artists. Series of solos, duets, quartets, etc. are fine, but how fun it would have been to make a group piece. In this regard, Fenley’s work is the best.
The cheery part is that SDP is planning “Project Two!” and will be reprising Project One! later this summer in Bellevue.
Each of the dancers – Michele Curtis, Alexandra Dickson, Oleg Gorboulev, Linnette Hitchin, Timothy Lynch, Kory Perigo, Melanie Skinner, and Julie Tobiason – are beautiful dancers and part of the main attraction was the chance to get to see them perform again. I hope that they will continue as SDP looks to and beyond 2008.
Overall, it was a very pleasing evening and a project that deservedly brought together tout le monde.