Every July for the past eight years, a little dance miracle has occurred at the Leo K. Theatre, and this year is no different. Once again, ARC Dance’s Marie Chong brings together a corps of dancers and choreographers for a diverse evening of visual treats.
That she does so in only 10 weeks is astonishing, given that each summer ARC is composed of a group of “pick up” dancers who have other commitments in other cities most of the year.
This year’s troupe is among the strongest Chong has ever assembled. Hamilton Nieh is back for the third time and dazzles in two solos as well as ensemble works. Victoria Jahn, in her second season with ARC, is a commanding presence with flawless technique and an expansiveness that extends every movement. Newcomers Jenna Nelson and Cameron Auble-Branigan are also standouts, as comfortable in jazzy as in balletic works.
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The dances on this year’s program are also among the finest Chong has presented. The program opens with the full-ensemble “The Blue Room” by Jason Ohlberg. Set to Spanish folk tunes, the piece captures the joy of the music through a series of non-narrative vignettes. Throughout the four sections, dancers enter and exit the stage in different groupings from different directions; the result is a series of beautiful, ever-changing patterns that showcase the performers’ elegant, fluid style.
Bookending the program is the world premiere of Gérard Théoret’s lovely “Recurring.” Three couples — men in white jeans, open shirts and bare feet; women in flowing white dresses and pointe shoes — waltz through a series of dreamy pas de deux and ensemble dances. This is a world where only beauty and refinement exist, with each couple gracefully exploring its own deep and abiding connection until the groupings change and new couples form.
The other works on the program demonstrate Chong’s eclectic taste and the range of her dancers’ skill. Nieh reprises his tour de force performance from 2010 in Kirk Midtskog’s classical solo “A Short Bourée.” With a brief costume change, he transitions to Chong’s athletic, contemporary “Something Fun,” equally challenging but in a rapid-fire, angular style.
Different too are Mark J. Kane’s “Of Passion You Have Plenty,” a jazzy, visually striking work for five dancers caught in individual spotlights, arms and legs flashing wildly, and Alex Ketley’s push-me, pull-me love duet “Duo.” It seems that ARC’s nine dancers can do anything Chong throws at them, much to our benefit.
Alice Kaderlan is a Seattle-based arts reporter who writes about dance and other subjects.