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 Post subject: Seattle Dance Project 3
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:11 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
Making Seattle Dance
Kent Stowell Talks about Seattle Dance Project 3

by Dean Speer and Francis Timlin

Choreographer and founding artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kent Stowell, was asked by the directors of Seattle Dance Project to make a new dance creation for their upcoming "Project 3" which will be unveiled at the end of January, 2010.

We sat down with Stowell to talk about choreography, his own process, and what to look forward to seeing onstage.


What is the Genesis of your new piece?

The piece is different from everything else [on Seattle Dance Project's program] – it's on pointe. Co-artistic directors Julie [Tobiason] and Tim [Lynch] thought they needed a short pas de deux. The process is a bit analogous to cooking bread – all the elements such as temperature, the weather need to be in alignment and it needs to be done often in order to have a proper sense of it. I felt out of shape at first.

The dancers are Joseph Anderson and Michele Curtis who said she was happy to be dancing on pointe again. I've never directly choreographed on either before, even though Joe was in our company. The hard part is working with unfamiliar clay and making the process – and ultimately the product – mutually interesting. Both Michele and Joe were real troupers and a pleasure to work with.

What is the music?

It's by William Bolcom, who has an artistic sensibility similar to mine – he uses a lot of Americana and feels an affinity for musical theatre. Today's choreographers have the advantage of a far more varied dance environment; my generation turned to the movies. The ballet tradition has been very influential in the rehearsal ethos... in film, the final version is there forever; on stage this is not so – which can be a good thing.

Today, there are so many young people working on craft and taking opportunities to find expression and expand and present the art form. It's great to see all these people out there tackling it. Ballet is the foundation for most of them and it's the ballet institutions that have formed these opportunities – through workshop performances, informal showings, choreography showcases, and the like. Many are interested in creating and inventing the new, yet I recall one bit of Balanchine's wisdom – that he was happy with piqué arabesque. The challenge is how to make the old steps new and fresh.

That's true. There's piqué arabesque, and then there's piqué arabesque.

One way is when ballet is new to an audience. “Swan Lake” was once completely out of fashion. Reinventing it helped to rebuild the audience for it. Directors discovered it was another tool in the chest that helped to strengthen the foundation of their companies.

Today's choreographers work more like movie directors – movies are a springboard. Think about what movies can do – how they make your mind work differently. These choreographers think outside the box – like the way they have no reservations about using pastiche sound scores. It can be more like performance art; a different way to look at theatre. It opens up lots of different ways to look at structure.

I once asked a well-known contemporary ballet choreographer if he were to make a ballet to no music, what would it look like? I was trying to ferret out what he felt his choreographic DNA or imprint might look like. Do you have a sense of what your creative "voice" looks like?

It looks more like breakfast than dinner! Breakfast is my favorite meal – it's straightforward. Dinner has lots of opportunities for richness and texture. My ballets were created to attract and expand our audience – I did what needed to be done for the future of our institution.

How is the process different for you this time?

It's interesting to be working without the large institutional support structure. I proudly note that, during our tenure, PNB did more than almost any company in terms of creativity and growth of repertory: presenting the work of 107 choreographers, many of whom created their ballets on our dancers. We started with virtually nothing and, over time, developed to compete with the major national companies. Almost unbelievably, back in 1981, PNB was one of only two companies in the U.S. to present a full-length “Swan Lake.” The other was David Blair's 1960's production for ABT. Now many companies have a production but, clearly, PNB was a leader in growing beyond regional expectations.

Entrusting major commissions to a choreographer is a big risk. I mean, to whom would you give a million dollars? That's the kind of number – and more – that today's ballets cost to put on. The integrity of the work and the relationships with the artists are the foundation. I believe the gene for artistic integrity is one that I inherited from Balanchine.

The working relationship of creative artists is a bit like a romantic one – a commitment is required. Some dancers never get there because of their own insecurities. The reason other dancers have a lot of new work created for them (e.g. Suzanne Farrell, Deborah Hadley, Jonathan Porretta and many other PNB dancers, as well as Michele Curtis and Joseph Anderson) is that they have a great willingness to extend themselves and to try new things.

http://www.seattledanceproject.org/

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Seattle Dance Project 3
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 12212
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch talks to choreographer Edwaard Liang about his new work for Seattle Dance Project 3. Performances are scheduled on Friday and Saturday, January 29-30 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, January 31 at 2:00 p.m.; and Friday/Saturday, February 5-6 at 8:00 p.m. in the Falls Theatre at ACT.

Seattle Times


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 Post subject: Re: Seattle Dance Project 3
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch reviews Seattle Dance Project 3.

Seattle Times


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 Post subject: Re: Seattle Dance Project 3
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:59 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Choreographer Edwaard Liang has been in Seattle working on his new piece for Seattle Dance Project 3, "To Converse Too." He is interviewed by Ryan Pangilinan for the Northwest Asian Weekly.

NW Asian Weekly


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 Post subject: Re: Seattle Dance Project 3
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:37 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
For Whom The Dance Toils
Seattle Dance Project 3
31 January 2010
ACT Theatre, Seattle

by Dean Speer

Anyone who has ever put on a major event of any kind or produced a work of art or a book already knows how much work it is. Seattle Dance Project directors Julie Tobiason and Timothy Lynch have the courage, energy, and vision to not only put their shows together -- and sometimes to dance in them -- but also to tackle the next two-thirds leg of the work which is to promote them.

This kind of artistic ambience gives organizations the fire to sustain and institutionalize themselves -- being so necessary to longevity and growth.

Seattle Dance Project was back for a third season with the Central Heating Lab at ACT and I got to catch their matinee on the January 31.

Project 3 was a showcase of new works for the Northwest dance scene, featuring works by choreographers Edwaard Liang (former soloist, NYCB), Kent Stowell (founder and former director of Pacific Northwest Ballet), and Mark Haim (Seattle premiere).

In addition, Seattle Dance Project’s rock and roll-inspired collaboration with Simple Measures (choreographed by James Canfield, director of Nevada Ballet Theatre/founder and former director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Betsy Cooper, Director of University of Washington dance department) were given well-deserved second viewings.

Cooper also danced in the first work, etching into our minds the clarity and deep feeling of her dancing and beautiful technique. First made in 2009 for “Chop Shop: Bodies of Work” an annual modern dance festival, “No More Sweet Hours of Rapture” by Mark Haim to an aria from Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” was bittersweet in tone and set at a walking tempo.

From classic opera to classic Rock-n-Roll with Cooper’s choreographic entry, “In Another Land” – aptly named, was followed after intermission by another Rock-n-Roll work, “Because” made by James Canfield especially for Seattle Dance Project. I liked both works but each suffered a bit from the unfortunate juxtaposition of being programmed next to works that of were similar in palette.

Programming is tough – you want to have a program that flows and compliments yet it’s critical that work also compare and contrast. Having two rock dances was not fair to either; it made them each less effective.

Is was refreshing seeing classic Kent Stowell choreography again – this time his new “B6" set to music of one of his favorite composers, Seattleite William Bolcom. Essentially patterned after the structure of a traditional pas de deux (entrance, duet, male solo, female solo, coda), I found myself wanting more as Stowell gave us the first two but not the finish the piece set us up for. Perhaps they ran out of time or something, but my only suggestion would be for him to add more!

By classic Kent Stowell I mean a piece that moves well, is very kinetic (you would not believe how many dances are dull, in this respect) and which logically builds on movement motifs that are easy and fun to follow. He also knows how to develop his ideas and not just give us boring repetitions or too simple development.

The program concluded with the premiere of Edwaard Liang’s “To Converse Too,” se to selections of Bach’s Suites for solo ‘cello. A charming work that would have greatly benefitted from live music.

Many persons have come together to support Seattle Dance Project and it’s exciting to see this relatively new artistic endeavor begin to find its toddler feet and go and grow.

Each of the beautiful and dedicated dancers – Timothy Lynch; Betsy Cooper; Susan Gladstone; Oleg Gorboulev; Kory Perigo; Michele Curtis; and Joseph Anderson – richly deserve hardy applause as do SDP founders, Tobiason and Lynch.

I very much look forward to its future offerings and can hardly wait until Seattle Dance Project completely matures as an organization and reaps the rewards it fully deserves.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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