Seated in the second row for Spectrum Dance Theater’s second installment in the 2017 season, Rambunctious Iteration #3 – The Immigrants, we were not exactly sure what to expect, as this presentation is the mid-season’s offering. As the lights dimmed, Executive Artistic Director and Choreographer, Donald Byrd stepped center stage to welcome us and to draw us into what we were about to experience. The evening’s performance included four world premieres and a Seattle premiere to music composed by immigrants, classical composers who are American; Tania León (Cuba), Max Lifchitz (Mexico), Yevgeniy Sharlat (Russia), Tan Dun (China) and Gity Razaz (Iran).
‘While He Was Away’ (León) was subdued in color and rich with expression. The entire company engulfed the stage. The piece was filled with bold movement. The score was interesting – an uneven and mixed tempo – but the dance flowed and the two things blended visually.
‘Paraphrase’ (Licchitz) began with the musicians (violins) on stage as the two pairs of dancers moved in unison, then reflection. A simple piece and visually engaging.
‘Roaming Ghost’ (Dun) brought a bigger, grander feel to the stage, with descended curtains that matched the costuming with flow and grace. The Chinese influence in the music was a lovely bride between the four movements of the piece.
‘Not From Here’ (Razaz) was my favorite. This piece showcased the dancers as strong, fluid and evenly matched. The lighting from the wings and the costuming really showcased the movements of the music – the crescendos and complementary pieces working together. I found it mesmerizing.
The final work of the evening, ‘August 1, 1966’ (Sharlat) was commissioned by the Texas Performing art at the University of Texas, Austin. The date refers to the ‘Clock Tower Shooting‘ at The University of Texas campus on that date. It was the first public mass shooting in the country.
The piece utilizes the entire company, with featured dancers. In the post-performance discussion, the dancers and Byrd talked about its creative evolution, how the movements were worked, then expanded or changed – as if composing music as the story builds and becomes more realised. For this piece – Byrd did not share the backstory with the company until well into the ‘writing’ of the dance. It resulted in a powerful work.
Byrd was also insightful throughout the evening has he stepped on stage between pieces to share, enlighten or engage about some aspect of the next work. This made the experience even more intimate and the evening enriching. I am not sure if this is standard for every Spectrum performance or only this variant – but it made it very authentic and personal.
If you wish to experience it yourself – there are two more performances this weekend, Saturday Evening and Sunday’s Matinee. Tickets are available at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center box office or online at the Seattle Rep Website.
Clip from the January 2017 performance of ‘Shot’.
Spectrum Dance Theater (SDT) was founded in 1982 to bring dance of the highest merit to a diverse audience composed of people from different social, cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds.