Never grasping at clever concepts, theatrical gimmicks or multimedia distractions, phenomenally talented local choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott lets her dance...

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Never grasping at clever concepts, theatrical gimmicks or multimedia distractions, phenomenally talented local choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott lets her dance speak for itself. In doing so she allows it a full range of voices, from otherworldly whispers to howls worthy of King Lear.


Her latest work is entitled “Ashes/Ashes,” and whether that suggests “dust to dust” or “we all fall down,” it’s clear the subject is death — or perhaps more precisely, afterlife. The dancers embody an unmistakable ghostliness, with simple white-and-gray costumes and lost-soul blank stares, and ensemble lifts that recall coffins borne on the shoulders of loved ones.


Now playing


“Ashes/Ashes”


Mary Sheldon Scott, choreographer, and Jarrad Powell, composer. Plays Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Velocity MainSpace Theater, 915 E. Pine St., tickets: $15. (206-760-2555)


When we read in the program that Scott’s father passed away in June, the poignancy of the work becomes even sharper.


Scott, who primarily choreographs for women, has added three men to her company, and consequently imbues the piece with a heft that balances the weightlessness of the women. She proves a gifted mathematician, adding the men to pairs, trios and groups, and exposing the complicated fractal at the heart of everything beautiful.


Jarrad Powell’s score buoys the movement and amplifies the spooky atmosphere. His composition varies from startling clangs to percussive pitter-patter; from mournful, sustained squeals to insectlike buzzes and clicks. At one point we hear the foreboding throb of an industrial washing machine, at another the clipped “pshtt, pshtt” of a voice attempting speech.


As in all her work, Scott reveals that small, pedestrian movements — a quick clutch at the heart, a canine beg — trigger waves of emotions that audience members weren’t even aware they were harboring. This is what great and lasting art does, of course: taps into some essential humanness on a cellular level.


Brangien Davis: brangiendavis@yahoo.com