ARC dancers rehearse for the Summer Dance at the Center shows coming to the Bagley Wright/Leo K. Theater. Photo courtesy of ARC Dance.
ARC dancers rehearse for the Summer Dance at the Center shows coming to the Bagley Wright/Leo K. Theater. Photo courtesy of ARC Dance.
Seattle's ARC Dance repertory dance company will present its annual Summer Dance at the Center this Thursday through Saturday at the Bagley Wright/Leo K. Theater at the Seattle Center. Five premiers of contemporary dance pieces will make up the performance.
The performances will be "a great introduction [to contemporary dance] for someone who wouldn't [normally] choose to go to dance on an evening that's free...who doesn't want to sit through a three hour ballet," said artistic director Marie Chong. The performance will be mixed repertory, different pieces from different choreographers instead of one full-length story often associated with a classical ballet.
The evening will premier original compositions from choreographers including Chong, Kiyon Gaines of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Penny Hutchinson, founding member of the well-known Mark Morris Dance Group.
"Contemporary dance means a lot of different things to different people," Chong said, "it's not about getting it, it's about having an open mind. If you come in with an open mind, the work is like a painting and the colors and the canvas are the dancers. Where the colors go and how they are put on the canvas is the choreographer's job."
Chong also emphasized the marriage between the dance and the music. The pieces are choreographed to an eclectic mix of music from Mendelssohn to Bach to Phillip Glass. She hopes that even if the visual aspect of the dance isn't stimulating enough, the music will be.
Chong defines contemporary dance as "outside the boundaries of classical ballet...a greater experience within space." There are hardly any rules for contemporary choreography, the one goal being t o evoke an emotional experience, "a visceral sensation," from audience members, Chong explained.
ARC Dance puts on exclusively mixed repertory dance performances from July through December, except for Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker in the winter. ARC Dance, which strays from most dance companies who rely on classical "story" pieces, hopes to "break through the glass barrier between the work itself and the viewer," according to Chong. The Summer Dance at the Center, going on its third year, is unique because all the pieces are world premiers.
Most of the dozen or so dancers who make up the company are classically trained and so have that foundation to explore new avenues such as modern dance, Chong explains. But spotting technical skill and different styles isn't what it's about.
"It's just beauty," Chong said. "It doesn't have to mean something, but it feeds your soul, that's why it is art."
Summer Dance at the Center
8 p.m., July 15-17
Bagley Wrigt/Leo K Theater at the Seattle Center, 155 Mercer St.
Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door; $15 students and seniors