A review of the Oct. 13 performance of “Judson Dance Theater: The First Decade,” examining the legacy of the New York dance rebels who, in 1961, began to push the boundaries of their medium.

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Trisha Brown’s 1971 dance piece, “Accumulation,” could not be more straightforward – or more intricate.

As the steady, folksy beat of the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” commences, a solitary dancer (Julia Burrer) does simple hand rotations, but soon adds complications that begin to spread throughout her body. Like some increasingly jazzy automaton, she throws in subtle hip swivels, head turns, leg lifts and full-body twists, gradually building up to a rhythmic tour de force. It’s abstract — but it’s also a witty, seductive feat.

“Accumulation” is the catchy opener for Chamber Dance Company’s “Judson Dance Theater: The First Decade,” examining the legacy of the New York dance rebels who, in 1961, began to push the boundaries of their medium. Their idea, in choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s words, was to distill dance to its “essential elements.” Hannah Wiley, whose mission as director of CDC is to preserve dance treasures of the past, makes clear what varied form those elements took.


Chamber Dance Company

Repeats 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14-15, 2 p.m. Oct. 16, Meany Hall, University of Washington, Seattle; $10-$22 (205-543-4880 or https://dance.washington.edu/events).

Steve Paxton’s “Satisfyin Lover” and Lucinda Childs’ “Carnation” are more “gesture theater” than dance per se. “Lover” features 42 performers of every possible age and body type who, in silence, file in desultory fashion across the stage, sometimes taking a seat in one of the three folding chairs in their path, but more often not. The low-key drama stems from wondering who will do what.

“Carnation” is more overtly theatrical. Soloist Laura Halm’s appointed tasks in it include adorning herself with kitchen gadgets and doing a headstand under rather odd circumstances. It takes a charismatic performer to pull it off, and Halm — as regal as she is absurd — makes the whole business come alive with her meticulous, chuckle-inducing antics.

Rainer’s “Chair/Pillow” plays deftly with the props of its title, as six seated dancers proceed to stand, squat, bend, turn, jump and slump, all while engaging in struggles with the white pillows on their chairs. Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High,” blasting away, lends urgency to their rigors.

In an artful piece of programming, Wiley closes the show with a 1992 non-Judson work she sees as tapping into the Judson influence: five excerpts from Zvi Gotheiner’s “Chairs.” It’s a must-see knockout, from the arching, angular chair-bound solo of long-limbed Barbi Powers to its two complex movements for 11 dancers who continually reconfigure their relations with one another. Its pair of duets for female and male couples cut to the heart of human connection and loss, as Gotheiner parlays Judson hallmarks — repetition, fun with props, enigmatic agendas — into something soulful and deep.