Fall Arts Preview 2016: Dance

Kick off the season with the best on the dance floor

By Jim Demetre


August 9, 2016

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Mother of Invention – Ezra Dickinson

Seattle choreographer, dancer, and performance and visual artist Ezra Dickinson is a familiar and always arresting presence, whether dancing on Seattle’s stages or on its gritty downtown streets. A standout performer in the Seattle-based Maureen Whiting Dance Company and co-director of The Offshore Project dance group, the ballet-trained Dickinson’s solo work has more recently focused on the role his paranoid schizophrenic yet devoted mother played in the development of his imaginative, creative self.

In 2013, he gained critical praise performing a powerful stealth dance work on the streets and sidewalks of downtown Seattle, titled Mother for You I Made This, which was inspired by his childhood memories of simultaneously being raised by and caring for her. Dickinson performs his new work, Psychic Radio Star (a term his mother once used to describe herself), as a dance and large-scale installation that incorporates painting, animation, sculpture and spatial design to continue his ongoing exploration of this subject.

It’s part art and part activism, he says.

“It will process my evolving relationship with my mother while encouraging healing and constructive conversation around the failed mental health care system in America.”

The show is based upon memories of his mother’s evocative language and the way words can distort and heighten our sense of reality. Through a sober recounting of a touching, painful and humorous personal experience, Dickinson takes on the notion of family, the nature of social stigma, and the strange connections between mental illness and the artistic practice. 11/3–11/6. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886; ontheboards.org 

The best in Dance

(Modern) Zoe Juniper
10/20–10/23 Choreographer Zoe Scofield and videographer Juniper Shuey return to On the Boards with a powerful and visually arresting search for redemption. The duo has incorporated the uniquely American folk tradition of shape note singing into their latest physically demanding work. Singers join the dancers and vice versa in a fascinating realm of constantly shifting perspectives. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, Queen Anne,100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886; ontheboards.org 
(Modern) Rachael Lincoln 
10/26–11/6 Choreographer Rachael Lincoln’s new work An Attic an Exit, performed by Lincoln and collaborator Leslie Seiters, is a highly physical duet revealing two characters traveling through five scenes within the confinement of a room. Puzzles and clues are offered and deciphered: hanging suit coats, a recurring precipice, levitating geometry, a trail of flour, and the manipulation of salt, saucers and silverware take the audience on a haunting and delightful ride. Times and prices vary. ACT Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676; acttheatre.org 

(Modern) Mary Sheldon Scott
11/3–11/6 Commissioned, presented and produced through Velocity’s Made in Seattle program, The Solo(s) Project is a multimedia research concept by choreographer/visual artist Mary Sheldon Scott with composer Jarrad Powell. Scott examines the nature of the solo and how to tell a compelling story about a single person. As Scott puts it, “It’s like a book of short stories for eight extraordinary performers.” Soloists featured in the work are dancers Corrie Befort, Jade Solomon Curtis, Alice Gosti, Mark Haim, Jim Kent and Linsyanne Owen. Times and prices vary. Velocity Dance Center, Capitol Hill, 1621 12th Ave., No. 100; 206.325.8773; velocitydancecenter.org 

(Ballet) Brief Fling
11/4–11/13 Pacific Northwest Ballet presents an evening of mixed repertoire that includes Twyla Tharp’s Scottish-flavored Brief Fling, Jiří Kylián’s Edvard Munch–inspired Forgotten Land and Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.441.2424; pnb.org

(Modern) Jessica Lang Dance
11/10–11/12 Jessica Lang, recipient of a 2014 Bessie Award, combines sophisticated design and classical ballet into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary works. Among the pieces performed will be Tesseracts of Time, created in collaboration with internationally recognized architect Steven Holl. Also on the program for Veterans Day weekend is Thousand Yard Stare, set to Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132, honoring wounded veterans and those affected by war. Times and prices vary. Meany Hall, University of Washington campus, 4140 George Washington Land NE; 206.543.5880; meanycenter.org

(Performance) Markeith Wiley
11/16–11/20 Talented up-and-coming choreographer and performance artist Markeith Wiley presents It’s Not Too Late, which channels the caustic humor of comedian Richard Pryor and writer Paul Mooney. Combining stand-up comedy, theater and movement, he unveils the new no-holds-barred persona of an engaging and brutally direct talk show host, complete with live music and a rotating cast of guests. Times and prices vary. On the Boards, Queen Anne, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886; ontheboards.org

(Persian/opera) Mark Morris Dance Group with The Silk Road Ensemble
10/6–10/8 Layla and Majnun is an original dance and live music production based on an ancient Persian tale well known in the Islamic world and the subject of its first opera, by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. The work will explore the themes of love, madness and mysticism through Mark Morris’ lyrical choreography and feature popular Azerbaijani singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, the vibrant musicality of The Silk Road Ensemble and the striking visual palette of British painter Howard Hodgkin. Times and prices vary. Meany Hall, University of Washington campus, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.5880; meanycenter.org

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Rob Smith

Spectrum Dance Theater Explores an Imagined Future

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