"Spotlight on Seattle," at Seattle International Dance Festival: Beyond the Threshold, makes clear that the Seattle dance scene is off its feet and running. The festival continues through June 10, 2012.

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Dance review |

If anyone doubts there’s something special going on in modern dance in this city, the first two nights of “Spotlight on Seattle” — especially Tuesday’s showcase — put those doubts to rest.

“Spotlight on Seattle” (part of Seattle International Dance Festival: Beyond the Threshold) is a three-evening survey of local artists with a different curator every night. Olivier Wevers, director of Whim W’Him, assembled Tuesday’s lineup. Tonya Lockyer, of Velocity Dance Center, handled Wednesday. Dan Mayer, of Kirkland Performance Center, covered Thursday.

Wevers’ emphasis was on athleticism, theatricality and frisky humor in dance — not always in the same package, but recurring in one combination or another often enough to give you a good notion of his tastes.

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Whim W’Him’s comical, macho striptease/showdown, “Flower Festival,” offered a last chance to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Lucien Postlewaite duke it out in close quarters with Andrew Bartee (also of PNB) before Postlewaite heads off to Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. PNB knows it’s losing a great dancer. But “Flower Festival” also made clear that Monte Carlo is getting a deadpan comedian with crack timing.

For more lurid theatricality, NorthWest Dance Syndrome’s excerpt from “The Snapping Point” stood out. Nadia Losonsky, attached by umbilical-cordlike red strings to six dancers, brought a creepy marionette to life in a piece that literally came out and grabbed you. Khambatta Dance Company’s “Modern Barbarism” turned a job interview into some zany gymnastic roughhousing.

The crowning event of the night was a preview of Spectrum Dance Theater’s “Love,” a new Donald Byrd work set to Benjamin Britten’s cello suites. Vincent Michael Lopez, as lithe and limber as he was rope-muscled and disciplined, was specially spectacular. Newcomer Jeroboam Bozeman — lifting Lopez and, later, Amber Nicole Mayberry as if they were so much flotsam — showed both incredible physical strength and a supple emotive sensitivity.

Wednesday’s tribute to Mary Sheldon Scott and Scott/Powell Performance, curated by Lockyer, was more uneven but still had potent moments. The performers included several former Scott/Powell dancers who are now choreographers in their own right. Corrie Befort and Beth Graczyk (of Salt Horse) blended two “horse solos” from different Scott works to eerie effect. Amy O’Neal drew laughs with the moves that accompanied her video-projected memoir about working with “Molly” (Scott’s nickname).

Contributions from Michael Rioux and Jessica Jobaris were more dubious. But an untampered-with revival of Scott’s 2002 work “Praying Mantis,” in which seven dancers kept transecting a sharply defined rectangle of light in different dance styles, made clear what the homage to Scott was about. Kristin Hapke and Ellie Sandstrom (vehement, vigorous, in perfect sync) were standouts.

Scott and her collaborator Jarrad Powell were both there, and Scott clearly relished what she called her “Academy Award moment.”

“There’s not a performer I’ve worked with who hasn’t shaped me as a choreographer,” she said.

Powell, Scott’s partner in life as well as art, added that he thought the work they’ve made together was “just one long courtship ritual.” The festival continues this weekend with fare with an international flavor from Khambatta Dance Company and Germany’s Urfluss (led by former Seattleite Liz Erber).

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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