Seattle Art Museum and Pacific Northwest Ballet have taken some crowd-calming steps this year, after last year's vast turnout.

Share story

If you attended last year’s Sculptured Dance, a free evening of outdoor dance performance at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, you remember a sparkling summer night, some vibrant and quirky dance works – and crowds. Enormous and enthusiastic crowds, with an occasional tendency to  wander right into the dances in a way that didn’t always work aesthetically. (Though sometimes the effect was charming.)

Sculptured Dance returns this year on Thursday, August 31, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and SAM, with Pacific Northwest Ballet (which commissioned the four dances to be presented, and which will perform in two of them), has taken some steps to perhaps calm the crowds. The evening is still free and open to the public, but RSVPs are requested, to help gauge attendance in advance. Fewer entry points will be provided, and each will be monitored by a SAM staffer, who will hold the line if the park reaches capacity.

The logistics of the performances have also been re-thought. There will be one dance fewer this year (four, instead of last year’s five), and each will be repeated four times (last year, it was two or three). A new two-track event format will allow attendees to cycle through the park and see everything in about 90 minutes. And whereas a few of last year’s performances were based at the park’s smaller sculptures, causing traffic jams, this year’s locations are carefully chosen to allow for crowds.

“You Sleep Like You’ve Never Sinned,” performed at Richard Serra’s vast steel sculpture “Wake,” is choreographed by Eva Stone (of the annual dance festival CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work) and performed by Au Collective. “Picnic,” inspired by Alexander Calder’s “The Eagle,” is choreographed by PNB principal dancer Noelani Pantastico, and danced by members of the company. “Suckle,” choreographed by Dani Tirrell and performed by PNB’s Amanda Morgan and Sarah Pasch, will take place at Roxy Paine’s tree sculpture, “Split”. “Shifted Figures,” choreographed by PNB’s Price Suddarth, will be performed by The YC, at Tony Smith’s “Wandering Rocks.”

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

Watch for pop-up performances around the park by the Purple Lemonade Collective, a Seattle artist group that includes choreographers, dancers, models stylists, graphic designers, videographers and music producers. And – remember those aforementioned crowds? – look for more food trucks/carts and (mercifully) more toilets than last year.

Sculptured Dance is one of those wonderful ideas that, by its definition, might be a little bumpy in its execution. Go expecting a bit of a squish — and have a wonderful Seattle summer evening. For more information, or to RSVP, go to pnb.org.