Seattle International Dance Festival/Beyond the Threshold shines a "Spotlight on Seattle."

Share story


Seattle International Dance Festival/Beyond the Threshold may have “International” in its title — but the festival doesn’t neglect the local scene.

Its three-night “Spotlight on Seattle” offers a showcase for a dozen choreographers and is a great way to catch up on what’s happening here.

Tuesday’s program was curated by Erin Boberg Doughton of Portland’s PICA/Time Based Arts Festival, who had the smarts to latch onto one of our most promising young locals: Kate Wallich.

Wallich’s “A Wood Frame,” featured in the BOOST dance festival earlier this year, resembles a classical sonata in having a slow-fast-slow three-part structure, featuring a trio of dancers, a quintet and then a trio again.

It’s not exactly symmetrical, however. In its opening, Wallich and Molly Sides lean together in an increasingly tangled struggle while Matthew Drews subtly exudes a tension off to the side. In the closing passage, it’s Wallich and Drews who confront and connect with each other, while Sides is the loner.

In between, Sarah Butler and Julia Cross join the action, with all five dancers mastering a tight elasticity in their choral moves. The piece suggests five bodies trapped in some force field, with attractions and repulsions affecting them unpredictably. Wallich’s sure sense of drama and her impressive dancers make “Frame” a bracing pleasure. The good new is she has a second piece in the festival on Thursday.

Khambatta Dance Company delivered a different kind of treat with “Talk Circle,” a take on office gossip in which the alternately bland and barbed verbal component was nicely hooked into tumbling, undulating, body-block dance moves.

Lizzy Melton in “Body of Work,” a solo she co-created with Nina Vallon, had flair. But the piece felt underdeveloped.

The evening closer, Jürg Koch’s “meanwhile: in Seattle,” was more satisfying. Six dancers created their own score with FM radios, changing stations at designated moments. As Koch explained after the show, they knew when they’d be hitting a classical, rock, jazz or talk-radio station, but had no idea what would be on them.

While the effect was sometimes diffuse in its impact, “meanwhile” had its highlights, especially in a fluid, athletic duet between Roxanne Foster and Rachel Grant. As for plucking a tidy ending out of the radio waves, it’s amazing what a little synchronicity can do. The piece closed, all too aptly, with the instrumental opening to David Bowie’s “Changes,” quickly switched to a man asking, “OK, so how long will it take the eggs, once they’re under Anastasia, to hatch?”

No way to duplicate that — ever.

The festival continues through Sunday.

Michael Upchurch: