Two programs feature big names in local dance and new talent.

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Velocity Dance Center’s annual “Fall Kick-Off,” now in its 13th year, is about looking forward, looking backward and, in some instances, peering a little bit off to the side.

It’s a chance to catch up with local dance’s big names, such as KT Niehoff and Whim W’Him. It’s also an opportunity to discover new talent, including Anna Conner, Coleman Pester and many others.

The festival comes in two packages. There’s “PNW Dance Platform” — three performances with a different program each night (Sept. 24-26). Then there’s the circuslike “Big Bang!” on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Dance preview

‘Fall Kick-Off’

Sept. 24-27, Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., Seattle; $10-$25 single tickets, $50 for all-access pass (206-325-8773 or

“We have 36 performances happening, filling every nook and cranny of Velocity,” Velocity director Tonya Lockyer enthuses. “Big Bang!” action will even spill outside the building.

Lockyer added “Big Bang!” to “Fall Kick-Off” in 2012. Performances go on simultaneously for four hours in all three VDC studios as attendees chat, sip drinks and wander between the dancers.

“Last year I didn’t do it,” Lockyer explains, “because I thought: Well, it’s kind of done what I wanted it to do. But the feedback from the community was that they really miss it.”

If “Big Bang!” is as much a party as a performance, “PNW Dance Platform” is a more orderly sampler of the best in Seattle dance, with Lockyer as its sole curator.

“But like any curator,” she says, “a lot of how I make my decisions is really about conversations. I talk to people about the past year and what really resonated for them. I look for patterns.”

Most of the pieces are excerpts from the past season’s highlights or works-in-progress. But a few are presented in their entirety.

“A Solo for Jade” — a six-minute piece choreographed by Vincent Michael Lopez as a gift for performer Jade Solomon Curtis — is one of those.

Lopez, formerly of Spectrum Dance Theater and Whim W’Him, and Curtis, who recently left Spectrum after four and a half years there, make a serious yet playful team. As they rehearsed at Velocity earlier this month, deep concentration alternated with easy laughs and shrugs.

The movement of “Solo” involves more curlicues, twists and precarious balances than the sharp, percussive angles of Spectrum director Donald Byrd. The idea, Curtis says, is to “explore something outside of what I’m typically used to.”

“Solo” (performed Saturday, Sept. 26) should provide exactly the dance-scene-in-transition moment that makes “Fall Kick-Off” special. It’s also an indicator of Seattle’s allure for dancers who could probably make any big dance hub their base of activities.

“The last time I was in New York, someone said to me that they really see Seattle as the ‘Second City’ dance town outside of New York,” Lockyer notes. “We’re seeing really fantastic dancers choosing Seattle instead of New York as their home — partially because they know that, here at Velocity, they have a platform and a hotbed to make work.”


This article was updated on Thursday, Sept. 24. An earlier version listed Pat Graney as a participant in the ‘Fall Kick-Off”; she is no longer on the program.