Spectrum Dance Theater
Donald Byrd wants to make us squirm. Whether the topic is domestic abuse, gang rape, or murder, Byrd's choreography often finds the dance equivalent of violent acts, showing us the darker parts of our nature and our culture. With Interrupted Narratives/War, Byrd turns his attention to warfare and its effect on the people it touches. This new work is paired with Living in East Podunk, which seems to be a Peyton Place view of life in an "ordinary small town," or, at least, ordinary according to Donald Byrd. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 292-ARTS, www.themoore.com. Fri., Oct. 5–Sat., Oct. 6.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
PNB opens its season with a juicy all-Balanchine program, but the big bang comes in November, when the dancers perform Twyla Tharp's hyper-intense In The Upper Room. So far the company has danced retro-Tharp (Nine Sinatra Songs) and postmodern collage Tharp (Waterbaby Bagatelles), but Room comes from the implacable Tharp, matching the driving intensity of the Phillip Glass score with daring physical aggression, like aerobics on the edge of a cliff. And on a program with Balanchine's coolly architectural Agon...your eyes will be vibrating as you leave the theater. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 441-2424, www.pnb.org. Thurs., Nov. 1–Sun., Nov. 11.
While dance, like so much of the culture, puts a high value on youth, there are a few areas where age and experience have a valued place. Rubina Carmona, dancer and vocalist with Carmona Flamenco, has duende like Aretha Franklin has soul—a deep and powerful link to the work she performs that has strengthened over time. When she raises her arm you feel its connection to the earth under her feet, and her voice can evoke the love and pain of the Gypsy lyrics, whether you understand the language or not. Performing with her husband, guitarist Marcos, and now with their percussionist son, David, alongside their other guests, she is a living manifestation of the deep roots of flamenco. Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland, 425-893-9900, www.kpcenter.org. Fri., Nov. 9.
In most circumstances, a gamelan orchestra—a glittering collection of gongs and drums—would be more than enough to watch, but pair it with the dancers who come from that same tradition, wrapped in silk and crowned with gold, and the very air begins to shimmer. The chimes and drums clang in a singsong rhythm over the top of the deep gong tones, while the dancers tell stories of gods and kings, their loves and their battles. Meany Theater, University of Washington, 543-4880, www.meany.org. Fri., Nov. 9–Sat., Nov. 10.
Mary Sheldon Scott has been working steadily over the past few years, refining the elegant momentum of her style and digging in to her ongoing collaboration with composer Jarrad Powell. In her new work, Geography, she explores the literal meaning of the term as the surrounding landscape, but she also investigates the hills and valleys of personal relationships, using the body as a map. On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 217-9888, www.ontheboards.org. Thurs., Nov. 15–Sat., Nov. 17.