Dance Preview: Moveable Beasts

OtB and Khambatta Dance Company offer festivals that are stripped-down and on the tracks.

Time for an extra vitamin—we're in festival season. Folklife just packed up after three days of multi-ethnic mayhem, SIFF runs until June 13, and for the next two weeks, On the Boards' Northwest New Works Festival and Khambatta Dance Company's Beyond the Threshold are offering huge programs chock-full of performing artists.Now in its fifth year, Cyrus Khambatta's project has been something of a migrant, from its beginnings on Capitol Hill to a tenure at Seattle Center, now settling at Cornish College and in South Lake Union. He's used his connections in New York and Europe to book an international roster of artists on a minuscule budget, presenting them in collaboration with local dance-makers in a setting designed for maximum exposure.To kick things off on June 5, a series of installations will take place along the route of the South Lake Union Streetcar. Stops along Westlake will offer riders a wild mix of styles—from a pack of kids performing Team Twister to a village of 14-foot-tall puppets to straight-ahead modern dance.Among the most promising performances scheduled for this part of the festival, called "Art on the Fly," are from Joan Laage, who offers a butoh variation on traditional Japanese dance. Laage and colleagues, dressed in the full regalia of the geisha, will make their way up and down Westlake in super-slow-motion, taking an hour to walk up the street and another to walk back down. Compared to their dreamy sustainment, the streetcar moves almost at the speed of light.The following week, Threshold will present three nights of performances, each curated by a different Seattle choreographer: Donald Byrd, Pat Graney, and Eva Stone. The 16 different works they've chosen will be almost like a tasting menu of local dance. Khambatta's company will be included each of those nights.On the Boards' Northwest New Works festival has been acting as a lodestone for the latest things for 27 years. And this year that includes new directions for some established participants. KT Niehoff and Amy O'Neal are both expert at producing big, effects-heavy, collaborative multimedia works. But for this year's NWNW, they're cutting things to the bone, in a pair of self-reflective works where the focus is on their own bodies.Coming off her months-long "Glimmer" project, full of showgirls, rock bands, and post-apocalyptic encounters, Niehoff turns a lens on herself and the realities of aging in Embracing the Inevitable, a duet with Alia Swersky. And O'Neal is shedding the video, props, and rock that marked recent works like too and crushed, both seen earlier this spring, for her solo piece, In the Fray. It's a retrograde view of a fight: She starts bloody and bruised, and we watch the violence in reverse. "I've gotten a little burnt out on video technology and the stress that it's caused," says O'Neal. "I'm going to strip everything away and see what's there."

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