AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY is built around anniversaries, from greeting cards to school reunions, so on one level marking the 10th anniversary of the Chamber Dance Company at the University of Washington feels a bit automatic. But years ending in zero bring out our reflective side, so this is as good a time as any to look at the group and their first decade.
Chamber Dance Company
Meany Hall, February 24-26
The ensemble and the graduate program that houses it were originally designed to solve a set of problems—how to get professional-level dancers involved in college dance departments while training them as future teachers. One of the goals of the performing ensemble has been to present works that otherwise might not be seen in Seattle. Whether they are old or just no longer in an active repertory, the works assembled for CDC programs by director Hannah Wiley are usually a rich mixture from the annals of modern dance.
This year's concert includes Erick Hawkins' Classic Kite Tails, Bonsai by Moses Pendleton of Pilobolus, Scherzo by Jos頌im�and David Parsons' The Envelope, along with a special staging of Table by Seattle choreographer Pat Graney. Looking for a single thread that connects them all is like playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"—Hawkins and Lim�oth come from the early generations of modern dance; before creating his own company Parsons worked with Paul Taylor; Pilobolus was one of the least traditional dance companies to bubble up in the dance boom of the 1970s; and Graney is always going her own way.
Classic Kite Tails is also classic Hawkins, whose style is characterized by a kind of joyous serenity. In Kite Tails his dancers resemble young gods at play, riding on the score by David Diamond.
Lim� Scherzo is not often performed. It was made in the 1950s when the choreographer first started teaching at the prestigious Julliard School, and is one of a number of works Lim�reated for an all-male cast. The CDC performances will include women, giving a new interpretation to choreography originally designed to exemplify male-ness.
Pilobolus grew in much the same way as the fungus it's named for, taking nourishment from anything in its environment. The sources are as likely to be from gymnastics or martial arts as conventional dance technique. The movement unfolds like an amoeba under the microscope, stretching, bulging, coiling around itself.
Parsons' The Envelope is an elaborate joke with an inevitable punch line, working its way through a Rube Goldberg-like setup until it delivers its message at the end, literally.
To mark 10 years of the company and the program, Graney has staged her Table on a cast of UW alumni, many of whom have gone on to teach in other college programs. It may not make a traditional reunion photo, but it's a nice landmark to celebrate the first decade of a unique program. Here's hoping for many more.