Kate Wallich’s “Industrial Ballet” — with an industrial-electronica score by Johnny Goss — was inspired by a local software engineer and arts patron who wants to introduce his co-workers to dance.
At a rehearsal last month, “Industrial Ballet” by Seattle choreographer Kate Wallich had only been in the making for three days. But it already looked unusually polished.
It opened with a captivating solo by David Harvey — a veteran of Alonzo King LINES Ballet — in which his body seemed like a plaything, toyed with by unseen forces. Sometimes, he reacted to those forces with a touch of panic, but more often with an air of inquiry, propelled by a building, industrial-electronica score courtesy of Johnny Goss.
With every move, Harvey captured the precise in the tentative, the exact in the uncertain. And when Wallich and Patrick Kilbane joined in, making his solo into a trio, their mix of synchronized movement and involuntary reflex was electric.
Made in Seattle: ‘Industrial Ballet’ by Kate Wallich + the YC
8 p.m. Saturday, March 26, presented by Velocity Dance Center at the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle; $17-$25 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
“Industrial Ballet,” playing for one night only at the Moore Theatre on March 26, is Wallich’s largest-scale work yet and it features knockout dancers. Harvey is a marvel, as is Kilbane, who in the past year has made big splashes with local dance companies Whim W’Him and Anna Conner + Co. Wallich’s longtime collaborators, Matt Drews and Lavinia Vago, are likewise in total sync with her. Former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Andrew Bartee (now of Ballet BC) will be part of the action, too. He and Wallich enjoy a special affinity of dance imaginations — what you might call a ballet-informed vernacular elasticity — and Bartee, Wallich jokes, has “a life contract” with her company.
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Beyond its allure as a dance piece, “Industrial Ballet” is distinctive in the way it came about: from an idea suggested by Case van Rij, a senior staff engineer with EMC Isilon, a downtown Seattle software company that specializes in data storage. Van Rij first saw Wallich’s work in the local BOOST dance festival and has supported it ever since. In one of their conversations, he presented her with his concept — “‘Black Swan’ meets Nine Inch Nails” was how he put it — and told her to do with it as she pleased.
“I wanted to create a dance piece,” he explained at the rehearsal, “that I could take my software-engineer co-workers to, that would appeal to them, starting with a style of music that they’re fond of, familiar with, and a venue that they’re familiar with.”
That venue was the Moore, with composer Goss (of Cock & Swan, La Luz and Lonesome Shack) taking his cue from 1990s industrial music. Velocity Dance Center director Tonya Lockyer — who is “can-do” attitude personified — put Velocity’s resources into making the event happen.
This year marks Velocity’s 20th anniversary, and she wanted to do “something exceptional.” Producing Velocity’s first show at the Moore, with Wallich as the star attraction, was “a no-brainer,” Lockyer said. “She was part of my thinking around what Velocity could do for dance in this city, and the role we could play in helping a young generation of talented dancers and dance makers stay in this city and build exciting careers here.”
Support like van Rij’s is vital to that. How did he catch the dance bug?
“I’ve been watching the ballet since I was 16,” he said. When he moved to Seattle from his native Amsterdam, only Pacific Northwest Ballet was on his radar. “Then in 2008, I started discovering Velocity and other companies here in Seattle,” he said. “I was just very excited by the work they were doing because it was so different from ballet … Since I had some disposable income, I just wanted to support that diversity in dance and various artists, and see what they would do if given the right resources.”
The Seattle International Dance Festival, Whim W’Him and zoe ǀ juniper are among the many beneficiaries of his passion for dance. “He’s an extremely thoughtful and consistent partner,” Lockyer said. Van Rij and his fellow donor Glenn Kawasaki, a biotech startup entrepreneur, have worked closely with Velocity to create the kind of dance they and Velocity want to see in Seattle.
“With Velocity,” van Rij said, “whatever they’re investing their time in is going to be interesting — even if I don’t know what to expect from it.”