Pacific Northwest Ballet's ambitious Celebrate Seattle dance festival continued full force Wednesday night with a program of hard-driving...

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Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ambitious Celebrate Seattle dance festival continued full force Wednesday night with a program of hard-driving contemporary works. Performances by guest companies Spectrum Dance Theater and Ballet British Columbia, two premieres by PNB and a comic dance on a tiny stage during intermission made up Program B of the three-week festival, which is presenting more than 20 works by choreographers with connections to the Northwest.

If you haven’t made it to the festival yet — and from the looks of the empty seats on Wednesday, many of you haven’t — go before it wraps on Sunday.

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Celebrate Seattle Festival, Program B, repeats 2 p.m. Saturday, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $18 to $145 (206-441-2424 or

Program B opened with Ballet British Columbia performing John Alleyne’s lyrical and athletic “Schubert.” (The piano trio was made up of violinist Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi, cellist Page Smith and pianist Allan Dameron.) Alleyne’s movement was balletic but with distinctive changes of line and involvement of the shoulders. The intensive partnering concentrated on deep slides along the floor and spectacular lifts — for long sequences the dancers’ feet rarely seemed to contact the stage. When Makaila Wallace stepped out to perform a brief, delicate solo, the contrast was startling.

In Sonia Dawkins’ passionate “Ripple Mechanics,” PNB dancers Carla Körbes, Batkhurel Bold, Kiyon Gaines and James Moore moved through fraught relationships defined with bold movement. They staked out their territory with four boxes that they used as platforms. The score by Matthew Segal included haunting recorded vocals of Nina Simone and Jacqueline Fuentes.

Toni Pimble’s “Two’s Company” set to music by Antonin Dvorák was the most gentle and lyrical piece on the program. Patricia Barker, moving between tender partnering with Bold and Karel Cruz, conveyed the complexity, not only of passion, but of love. The musical quartet was made up of Kransberg-Talvi, violinist Ingrid Frederickson, violist Scott Ligocki and cellist Page Smith.

Spectrum Dance Theater took the level of intensity in McCaw Hall to a whole new level. In Donald Byrd’s “Bhangra Fever,” the dancers moved at high-tension speed to a club score fusing traditional Indian beats with electronic music. Stepping through Craig Wollam’s towers of printed cloth and wearing K.D. Schill’s costumes, men in suits and women in dresses, they conveyed the sense of a frantic Delhi street scene. The sexualized partnering of the riveting Allison Keppel with David Alewine, incorporating gestures and poses from traditional Indian dance and art, suggested the erotic carvings in a temple.

During the intermission Heather Budd and Jody Kuehner performed “One Bird Shout Out” on a small, table-sized stage — one of several informal “Tiny Dances” being presented in the lobby during the course of the festival. They drew laughs for their costumes and some convincing seagull-inspired moves.

Seeing guest companies on stage at PNB was one of the many great pleasures of this forward-thinking festival. PNB continues to open doors between the sometimes separate worlds of contemporary dance and classical ballet here in Seattle, creating an inspiring sense of connection.

Mary Murfin Bayley: