[Editor’s note: With this article, Wallyhood is pleased to welcome Aakanksha Agarwal, a self-described “food and lifestyle writer” to our writing staff. Aakanksha is a recent arrival to Seattle, and we are happy she has chosen to make our neighborhood her home. Look to see more from her in the near future.]
“If you can walk you can dance; if you can talk you can sing.”
An old Zimbabwean saying, hanging in a little frame on the wall set the mood as I waltzed (If you can waltz with three left feet!) in at Dance Fremont, for their spring concert ‘Refractions.’ This evening promised to be filled with well, dance – ranging from contemporary dance to historic ballet.
There’s no narrative as such, but diverse pieces. The show features members of the Fremont Danceworks company, both at junior and advanced levels. Choreography is by Karena Birk, Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino, Amy J Lambert, Kristen Legg, Alana Rogers, and Mary Reardon.
The performance opens on a classical note with a re-staging of Jules Perrot’s nineteenth-century Pas de Quatre. The bare stage reveals feminine silhouettes as the light falls on them, and the four ballerinas move in unison. They’re perfectly poised, and the soft pink of their tutus flutters below their knees. It sets the tone for the experience to follow.
In one strangely captivating act, there is a duet where the dancers break all patterns with movements that are very different from each other. If one has an understated, robot-like movement, the other almost glides with a kind of fight-or-flight desperation. There are indeed, two sides to every story.
Everyone responds to art differently, and the production is aptly titled ‘Refractions,’as it echoes different perspectives. Pas de Quatre is given a modern rendition by choreographer Mary Reardon in a compelling piece after intermission called ‘Steps for Five.’ In this experimental version, ballet as an art form is re-imagined in the here and now. It is playful and a bit flirtatious. You’d imagine ballet to be always startlingly proper and graceful, but in this sequence, these five dancers make it look like they’re having fun.
What starts out as an almost meditative experience reaches a floor-shaking climax. The stage comes alive with a sparkly jazz finale. The dancers, decked in gold sequined dresses, make for a shiny vision with their geometric movements to the sexy background score of “Blackbird,” by Dionne Farris.
What the production lacks in narrative, it more than makes up for in sheer variety and fluid energy. The background scores are lovely, but the music doesn’t reverberate because of an unremarkable speaker system. But all in all, there’s so much great dance. Like a buffet, you can try so many different lovely tastes, styles, choreography, and tunes.
It’s fascinating to see dancers in distinctive stages of their own journey put up a seamless show together. Right from charming ten-year-old ballerinas to more experienced artists in their late teens, young girls share a stage and hold their own, with equal amounts of personality and skill.
There is a sense of surprise to the production. Could the sound design have been better? Yes. That aside, the final image was one of grace from start to finish. These up-and-coming danseuses are riveting at such a young age. Overall, it was a satisfying show, and an evening well spent. Bracing for the crisp air outside, I walked out with a spring in my step and a tune in my head.
If you missed last weekend’s performance, you still have three more chances:
Where: Dance Fremont studio theater, 4015 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA
- Friday April 6, 7:30
- Saturday April 7, 3:30 & 7:30
Tickets: $15 in advance and $20 at the door.