There is such a ferocity to Robert Moses’ choreography and an intensity among his dancers that it makes you want to bounce along in your seat as you watch a performance of his company Kin.
In this first outing of Kin to Seattle, at UW’s Meany Studio Theatre, Moses’ sexy, eclectic style is on full view in three different pieces, starting with the dramatic anti-war “Speaking Ill of the Dead.”
The work starts with a couple caught in a spotlight as a voice intones the first heart-wrenching phrase from countless military letters, “We regret to inform you …”
For the next 15 minutes or so, the dancers twist, spin and leap with bulletlike speed until the final moments when a group of male bodies lies dead on the floor.
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Skillfully weaving movement and text, Moses never preaches; his rapid-fire, inventive steps maintain such momentum that it is only after the ballet concludes that one feels its full emotional impact.
Norma Fong leads the troupe with laser-sharp focus, and even in a group, she catches the eye.
But the entire company is riveting, lanky and sinewy with arms and legs that seem to go on forever. Together they achieve that rarity in dance, the ability to simultaneously showcase individual qualities while maintaining a coherent ensemble effect.
The other standout on the program is “Approaching Thought.”
In this abstract work, three couples undulate their torsos and swirl around the stage in ever-changing patterns.
The movement is extremely stretched out and jazzy, and underscores Moses’ expansive use of space, which in this case makes us feel there are far more than six dancers on stage.
Rounding out the program are excerpts from another Moses ballet, “Nevabeawarldapece” (there will never be world peace), works by two other choreographers — former Kin member Bliss Kohlmeyer and former Alonzo King LINES ballet dancer Gregory Dawson — and the performance of a project that Moses calls “Draft.”
Both the Kohlmeyer and Dawson pieces have moments of beauty, but they get lost against the more demanding, polished Moses ballets.
“Draft” is another thing entirely. Essentially a student performance (in Seattle, the performers come mostly from the UW and Cornish), it’s the result of a collaborative process Moses uses to generate ideas he can incorporate into new ballets for his professional company and to encourage and expose local dancers to his style.
There are a few interesting solos in “Draft” — UW student Jessica Huang is particularly impressive — and the process is no doubt valuable for Moses and the dancers. But coming after such a striking series of Moses works, “Draft” is a bit of an anticlimax as the program’s concluding dance.
Seattle-based journalist Alice Kaderlan writes on the arts and other subjects.