A review of Seattle International Dance Festival/Beyond the Threshold, which got off to impressive start, despite performers' visa troubles.

Share story

Dance Review |

Iraqi Bodies’ “Le Temps l’emportera,” the opening piece in the Seattle International Dance Festival/Beyond the Threshold, was originally conceived as a duet. But due to the Amsterdam-based dance troupe’s visa difficulties, choreographer-performer Lotus Eddé-Khouri was forced to rework it as a solo at the last minute.

You’d never guess that from her seamless, confident performance.

“Le Temps,” set to an ambient score punctuated by pacing footsteps, is a memory piece paying homage to Eddé-Khouri’s grandparents’ house in Beirut. Executed with exquisite control, it built on slow limited movements confined within a small circle of light.

As the ambient hum intensified, Eddé-Khouri’s moves evolved with a steady elasticity. Rising up and down, shifting from symmetry to asymmetry and back again, Eddé-Khouri pulled herself into awkward knots and eased back into release, until the smooth tension of her movements ultimately tripped into something more explosive.

Fine, rigorous stuff — but it seems absurd that Iraqi Bodies’ award-winning artistic director, Muhanad Rasheed, and his brother Majed Rasheed, the troupe’s technical director, should be kept out of the country, ensnarled in an impenetrable bureaucratic process that’s affecting many arts presentations in the U.S. these days.

Fortunately Katsura Kan (Japan) and Compañia Ciudad Interior (Mexico) squeaked through and were able to perform as intended. Kan’s duet with Sharoni Stern, “Voyagers,” built on butoh aesthetic in a highly individual manner. Slow ritualistic moves alternated with odd bits of stage business: knocking at invisible doors, self-caressing swivels, mimed bathing activity. The two performers did indeed seem to be on a voyage: some sort of sensual-experience sampler, with some self-discovery thrown in.

Ciudad Interior’s choreographer-director Alejandro Chávez and his seven dancers presented “Homoloidal” — a pun, presumably, on “homaloidal,” a term used in geometry that, according to Webster’s, applies “to surfaces and to spaces, whether real or imagined, in which the definitions, axioms, and postulates of Euclid respecting parallel straight lines are assumed to hold true.”

Chávez was formerly with Martha Graham Dance Company, and he and his troupe have modern-ballet chops to spare. In their hands, “Homoloidal” was a dizzying ricochet machine that kept changing speed and direction. Meticulously mapped out, yet potent with chaos in its unpredictable leaps, kicks and sky-high partnerings, it brought to mind the work of Seattle’s Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater.

“Le Temps l’emportera,” “Voyagers” and “Homoloidal” repeat Saturday. On Sunday, Spectrum performs, Ciudad Interior collaborates with Agnieszka Laska Dancers and Katsura Kan collaborates with Khambatta Dance Company.

The festival continues through June 19.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com