International Dance Festival, Seattle

Written by:
Alyssa Schoeneman
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Members of Seattle’s “highly physical” Khambatta Dance Company performed at the festival.
Photo courtesy of the company

Beyond the Threshold: Seattle International Dance Festival

Week 1: Iraqi Bodies, Khambatta Dance Company, Compañia Ciudad Interior, Katsura Kan
Raisbeck Hall
Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle
June 11, 2011

Attending Beyond the Threshold: Seattle International Dance Festival felt like world traveling in a go-kart—a bumpy and inconsistent ride made worthwhile only by its exhilarating finish.

“Le Temps l’emportera,” the evening’s opener, featured Iraqi Bodies (Iraq/Holland/France) dancer Lotus Eddé-Khouri in a brief but well-executed solo. There was a reason for its brevity: Eddé-Khouri adapted it from a duet, which had to be cancelled when visa problems caused two of her three fellow performers to be detained. Eddé-Khouri began “Le Temps l’emportera” facing upstage, executing a series of slow back undulations and arm gestures atop a measured downstage walk. Occasional low leg movements and upper back arches punctuated this sequence, the latter exposing Eddé-Khouri’s face (in partial) to the audience for the first time. Clarity and dynamic tension in Eddé-Khouri’s movement added to her allure as a performer; she demanded the audience’s attention from her unadorned torso teetering to her subsequent frenzied arm circles. It is a shame the piece did not last longer.

In a preview of an upcoming performance, a quartet from Seattle’s Khambatta Dance Company gave a highly physical but noncommittal performance. Clad in black T-shirts, shorts and kneepads, the four dancers executed individual movement phrases, duets with alternating partners, and unison choreography as an ensemble. Repeated lifts, jumps and turns highlighted the noticeably greater technical proficiency of two performers over their fellows. As evidenced by transitional runs at less than full speed, the small stage dimensions of Raisbeck Hall proved limiting for the Khambatta dancers. Though often visually appealing, overall, Khambatta’s choreography lacked inspiration and depth.

A distinct bump in the road of the evening’s performance, “Homoloidal,” performed by Compañia Ciudad Interior of Queretaro, Mexico, lacked a clear choreographic voice, making the piece appear amateurish. Choreographed by Alejandro Chavez, it consisted of eight dancers who performed individual movement phrases, duets and trios that highlighted their virtuosity. Unfortunately, inadequate technique and an overall self-indulgent feel distracted from sporadically innovative choreography. Moments of unison, stillness, audience confrontation and a chaotic overlap in choreographic phrases lacked justification in the work’s intellectual progression, despite the dancers’ high level of physical commitment. This work did not end soon enough.

“Voyagers,” a butoh duet by Katsura Kan (Japan), closed the evening. Mirrored by partner Sharoni Stern Siegel, a topless Kan stood on the outer rim of a pool of light, gesturing in and out of the beam in a controlled manner. When the dancers settled in their spotlights, their gestures became more clearly narrative. Pulling invisible strings from their mouths, they introduced the idea of an unseen puppeteer and, as the piece progressed, the choreography became increasingly indicative of outside manipulation. In the work’s most climactic sequence, the seated Kan and Seigel repeatedly rose to bended knee and toppled to the ground knee-first, as if a string was cut from overhead. In an evening of varied skill level, this flawless performance by two seasoned dancers offered a refreshing ending to an otherwise inconsistent/choppy show. Despite the evening’s redeeming finale, I much preferred the smooth sailing of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Giselle.”

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