Dance: Seattle Dance Project/Simple Measures

Two (rather similar) dances set to rock arranged for classical instruments.

When Julie Tobiason and Timothy Lynch of the Seattle Dance Project first discussed their newest program, the pieces were only starting to come into place—a collaboration between the company and Simple Measures, a chamber-music concert series with a reputation for intimate venues (the motto on their Web site: "Any closer, and you'd be licking varnish").But after several months of work on all sides, the result is a pair of dances that might resemble each other a bit too much. Both are trios (one woman and two men), both are made by choreographers with a strong background in ballet and experience in modern dance, both are performed to a suite of '60s rock transcribed for an enlarged string quartet, and both project a poignant, elegiac quality. Strong enough on their own, the pieces tend to bleed together here.In her preshow comments, SDP choreographer Betsy Cooper said that she chose music by the Rolling Stones for her new work, In Another Land, because fellow artist James Canfield had "already picked the Beatles." But rather than going with a hard-charging impulse, she became fascinated with the renaissance and baroque references in some of the Stones' earlier recordings. Cooper has linked those elements to the courtly nature of ballet, so threaded through the dance are elaborations on greetings and partings—scrolling hand gestures and gracious bows. Kory Perigo and Oleg Gorboulev both twist and distort conventional shapes in their solos—there are hints of Gorboulev's early training as an acrobat, while Perigo looks more like a character from commedia dell'arte. In her duet with Gorboulev, Susan Gladstone seems more at home with In Another Land's balletic aspects—this is a dance more about Mick's frock coat than his skintight pants.As director of Oregon Ballet Theater and now Nevada Ballet Theater, Canfield has spent a big part of his career setting ballets to rock and pop music. In Because, he skips the Beatles' cheerful pop tunes in favor of more atmospheric and moody selections, mostly from Abbey Road and the White Album, and the dances he stages to them have a similar pensive quality. You might do them in your bedroom with the headphones on, if you were a much more accomplished performer. Canfield handles the intimate space deftly, especially considering he's more accustomed to opera-house-sized stages. Perigo, with Lynch and Michele Curtis, seemed to be dancing as much for themselves as for us or each other, working out some kind of internal struggles. It's difficult to make complex, physically demanding movement read as the evocation of someone's inner life, but Canfield accomplishes that here.

 
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