This year’s festival, from June 10-25, puts the spotlight on contemporary dance.

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Breakdancers at a farmers market, a Baryshnikov and a dance inspired by the occupation of Oregon’s Mahleur Wildlife refuge — all are part of the 16th annual Seattle International Dance Festival, a celebration of contemporary dance that began with outdoor performances May 21 at the South Lake Union farmers market. The festival picks up this weekend with its official opening night Friday, June 10, featuring Shura Baryshnikov’s Doppelgänger Dance Collective.

From June 10-25, over 20 performers — soloists, duos and full dance companies — will present work in a series of programs that focus on different aspects of contemporary dance. New to the festival this year, the Spotlight on Contemporary Ballet series (June 21-22) will show work that combines dance techniques common to classical ballet and contemporary dance.

“To me, classical ballet is about the arrival at a position or the completion of an act,” says Julie Tobiason, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer. “Contemporary dance is more about the journey, getting through the movement. Contemporary ballet is a combination of these, like we see in a lot of [Spectrum Dance Theater’s] Donald Byrd’s work. There are ballet lines and positions, but the journey through the movements is more explored.” Tobiason choreographed a new contemporary ballet piece for the festival, which is set to music by Philip Glass and danced by local artists Alice Cao and Joshua Crouch.

Dance preview

Seattle International Dance Festival

Performances from June 10-25 at Raisbeck Hall, 2015 Boren Ave., and Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway; tickets from $18 (888-377-4510 or

While the contemporary dance series focuses on local talent, artists from around the United States and abroad are featured in the “Inter|National” performance series.

Choreographers Danielle Davidson and Shura Baryshnikov, daughter of the renowned dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, open the first weekend of stage performances with their East Coast-based Doppelgänger Dance Collective. Its performance style is largely influenced by the study of contact improvisation, a dance genre Baryshnikov says is “an exploration of two bodies in contact with each other in space, in relation to physical laws.”

Does Doppelgänger perform contact improvisation or is it more of a training technique? “We don’t perform it,” Baryshnikov says. “But dancers who study contact improvisation have an organic element to their movements. They know how to use the floor and create movements that look like unexpected moments.”

Baryshnikov will teach a class in contact improvisation as part of the Threshold Institute, a weeklong training for intermediate and advanced-level dance students.

Other performances in the “Inter|National” series include the Japanese/Swiss collaboration T42 Dance Projects, which will perform “Another Chopsticks Story,” a physical theater and dance that “uses Madame Butterfly as a point of departure” to explore ethnic, geographic and gender identities. Aura Dance Theater (Lithuania) will present the American premiere of its award-winning choreographic work.

Doppelgänger’s choreographic works will also be presented by Khambatta Dance Company, and local choreographic legends Wade Madsen and Deborah Wolf.

The Spotlight on Artist’s Perspective series presents work from choreographers who, according to festival programming, “address specific themes in their work that contribute to social dialogue and discourse in our region.”

The program includes new work from Washington artists Elby Brosch, Peter DeGrasse, Constanze Villines, Stephanie Liapis, Ethan Rome and Kaitlyn McCarthy. McCarthy’s work, “Please Send Snacks,” was inspired by recent events at Oregon’s Mahleur Wildlife Refuge and explores “conservative male characters through six female bodies.”

The Spotlight on Seattle Now series presents work from local up-and-coming artists including filmmaker and choreographer Liz Houlton, former Spectrum Dance Theater Jeremy Cline, Anna Conner, and Lauren Linder and Adriana Hernandez.