A review of the 2015 summer program of ARC Dance, which features compositions by Ilana Goldman, Edward Liang, artistic director Marie Chong and others.
Every summer, ARC Dance artistic director Marie Chong makes a little magic at the Leo K. Theatre. Working within a two-month window, Chong brings together a small group of dancers from a range of ballet companies and established and emerging choreographers to create a coherent evening of dance.
The most interesting ballet on this year’s program is the world premiere of “Gaining Ground” by Ilana Goldman. Goldman, a former dancer with Trey McIntyre Project and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, is a relative newcomer to dance making and if “Gaining Ground” is any indication, she has a promising choreographic career ahead of her.
“Gaining Ground” is an abstract work for two couples and although there is the hint of a narrative, what’s most compelling is the eerie, otherworldly mood that Goldman establishes from the moment both couples emerge from the wings. Each seems engaged in a push-me-pull-you relationship but there’s a robotic quality to their movement that undermines any emotion they might be feeling for each other.
Through July 25, Leo K. Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center; $15-$40 (206-352-0798 or arcdance.org).
Edward Liang’s “Infinitum,” also a world premiere, explores similar territory although his flowing movement style is very different from Goldman’s intricate, sculptural forms. In “Infinitum” three men seem to vie for the affection of a single woman but again there is almost no emotional content to their interactions. They twist her body, this way and that, but she hardly seems to notice, and when she finally chooses a partner, it seems like an afterthought.
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Two of the three other works on the program maintain the same somber mood as “Infinitum” and “Gaining Ground,” and only Chong’s “Schumann” adds a welcome touch of lightheartedness. Set to seven movements from Robert Schumann’s “Kinderszenen, Opus 15,” it’s a lovely ditty of a ballet noteworthy mainly for showcasing the classical ballet talents of Madeline Bay and Victoria Jahn.
Both have beautiful technique, gorgeous extensions and a fluidity that carries them seamlessly from one step to the next. This is Bay’s first season with ARC and one hopes she’ll be back again next year. As for Jahn, in this, her second season with the company, she dazzles once more with her expansiveness and laserlike focus. In “Infinitum,” she commands the stage in her flowing red dress even when the men seem to be in charge; in Travis Guerin’s ensemble work “Hive,” she is the one who catches the eye with higher extensions, longer arm reaches and greater emotional intensity.
The fifth ballet on the program, Jason Ohlberg’s “Song of the Siren,” is a repeat from 2007. This time around, two different trio casts perform it — all men the first weekend, and all women the second. It’s a gentle work, easy on the eyes and ears (score by Henryk Górecki) but not especially memorable.