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Modern dance continues to flourish in Seattle

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Seattle’s modern dance scene heats up with a variety of new works, expanding companies, and remounting of award-winning pieces at the beginning of 2014.

Cacophony for 8 Players concludes its short run tonight (Jan. 26) at Washington Hall explores the porous interplay of performative history. Dance artist Allie Hankins joined director Torben Ulrich, composer Angelina Baldoz and choreographer Beth Graczyk to help transform the space through of dance, music, video, sculpture and textural audio.

Visual artists Steven Berardelli and Micki Skudlarczyk, lighting designer Amiya Brown, costume designer Mark Ferrin, scenic designer Corrie Befort, and videographer Clyde Pedersen contributed to this exploration of eight legendary performers and their concepts of performance and creation.

The work draws its name from eight texts taken from Bharatamuni, Abhinavagupta, August Bournonville, Vaslav Nijinsky, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Maya Deren, and Pina Bausch.

Velocity speeds up choreographic process

Living up to their name, Velocity Dance Center challenged four choreographers to come up with four new works in less than a month to start off the year.

The 2014 Bridge Project will feature new work by Seattle artists Shannon Stewart, Babette McGeady [the Pendleton House], Anna Conner, and Colleen McNeary.

Stewart plans to move her BIG BANG! mosh pit to the stage with a cast of seventeen dancers; McGeady will combine dance with the Pendleton House collaborators’ live sculpture and sound; Conner explores herd mentality with new original music; and McNeary goes solo.

As part of the Bridge Project Creative Residency, each choreographer received the creative, financial and administrative support and the mentorship of Velocity 2013 Artist-in-Residence Dayna Hanson.

Their new works will be presented Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 at the Velocity Founders Theatre, 1621 12th Avenue.

W’him Whim turns five

Seattle’s most whimsically named company continues to expand their professional footprint at the beginning of their fifth season.

Whim W'Him is moving from hiring dancers on a per-project basis to creating an actual company. Founder and artistic director Olivier Wevers reported that the studio was packed with interested dancers during recent auditions.

The company also has engaged an Executive Director, Katie Bombico, to oversee the business side of nonprofit so Wevers can focus on the creative side.

Following a short program in January, the company plans to remiere three new works at The Erickson Theater on Capitol Hill in May.

Spectrum remounts Byrd’s minstrel show

Spectrum Dance Theater will present The Minstrel Show Revisited in February. Choreographer and Artistic Director Donald Byrd’s 1991 Bessie Award-winning work is a satirical look at the 19th century minstrel shows that infamously featured performers in blackface.

Byrd, in a January 1992 Los Angeles Times interview, said that his “motivation is not to authentically or historically recreate minstrel shows, but to make something that has a feeling of minstrel shows and is structured somewhat like them with more contemporary sensibility.”

The show is part of Spectrum’s 2013-2014 season entitled “America: Sex, Race, and Religion.” In a re-imagining of his work, Byrd promises to add new references, including the Trayvon Martin slaying and the George Zimmerman acquittal, to explore the lingering scars of racial, religious, and sexual bigotry in America.

Performances will take place at The Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center, Feb. 20 to 22.

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