Dance to Make You Feel N.E.W.
A showcase of modern works this weekend blends and bends genre and theme, evoking a spectrum of exhaustion, energy, freedom, and hope. It’s the latest in a line of impressive new works from PRICEarts N.E.W. The performance runs through tonight.
Choreographer/dancer Noelle Price performs on stage with an unmistakable clarity of focus. Her eyes pierce, even as her energetic smile lights up a room. Catch it as she’s twirling across stage — as she does in Breath After Life, performing in HATCH: A N.E.W. Gala Dance Performance this weekend — and you can’t help but beam as well.
Her work is an exercise in contrasts. Surely not all smiles, its intensity is owed in part to the range of emotions and moods it conveys in one compact piece. But it’s generous with the audience, inviting it in rather than confronting it with an esoteric wall of superiority.
That’s part of what distinguishes Price’s work, and that of cohorts she leads, from other dance out there. Her work takes its commission seriously, in that it’s demanding, bringing beauty and uniqueness and quality; but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, as dance too often does. It might be “about” something; but alongside it oozes a mood, an energy, an open canvas. It allows the audience to find the meaning of the piece itself, its own space in the work, without viewers feeling like they’re missing something. It’s generous in its accessibility. Not unlike Price herself.
This weekend, Price and her company share the stage with others, as they often do. HATCH showcases several new and recent works in groups small and large, including a large troupe of kids and teenagers from Kaleidoscope, a long-standing company of young dancers.
The show features six significant, meaty works, two of which Price choreographed, and two of which she performs in. The pieces range thematically from pain and exhaustion, healing and energy, hope and freedom — sometimes within the same piece. It’s a fitting vastness from a company whose mission is To empower communities to find freedom through art.
Among the six works, there’s great variety in format as well. Price’s Breath After Life (which performed also at this year’s Tint Dance Festival at the Erickson, a festival that returns next spring) begins in a place of quiet intensity that pulses with urgency, and moves in stages, almost imperceptibly, to an exchange filled with energy and joy. The N.E.W. cohort’s My Piece to Give (Tessa Bañales, Elijah Kirk, Melissa Krienke, Ivana Lin, Robert Moore) evokes contrasts of loneliness and togetherness. Bruises (Shobha Blossey and Henry Burton-Wehmeyer) looks at the push/pull of closeness through a dance of letting go. Price’s Lotus fills the stage with nearly 20 young dancers who at times — whether intentionally or not — caught the stage lights just right and became 15-foot-tall shadows on the south wall, dancing gleefully above the audience. And reticence (Ethan Rome with the dancers) captivated, evoking emergence from exhaustion and withdrawal (“I stayed where nobody could find me, and then a week became a month”). The program closed with an exuberant finale of all the dancers — some 25 of them — taking the stage.
The PRICEarts N.E.W. (Never Ending Work) cohort is aptly named, and descriptive of what PRICEarts and its N.E.W. cohort are already bringing to Seattle in their short history here: a new view on modern dance — a genre which, for all its focus on “the moment,” has felt rather static (and too often monochromatic) lately; and a work-hard ethos that’s led to a steady stream of showcasing high-quality, dynamic works.
The two-day gala closes today, with a family dance workshop this afternoon, and the showcase performance tonight.
HATCH runs through 10/12 at the Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill. Tickets are $25 (with $10 and $40 options available) at the door; info here. For showtimes, visit Calendar page. Accessibility notes: restrooms are gendered and multi-stall; theatre and common areas are wheelchair accessible.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.