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Friday, September 16, 2022

With Fresh Eyes and Heart

 

Andy McShea, front with fellow Whim W'Him dancers in Dolly Sfeir's hard times for dreamers.
photo @ Jim Coleman, courtesy Whim W'Him

One of the pandemic’s upsides (you read that correctly, there were a few) has been the opportunity to see artists with new eyes. Or at least, eyes that have had a protracted break from live performance.

Last weekend I was happy to be in the Erickson Theater audience for the opening night performance of Seattle contemporary dance company Whim W’Him’s 13th artistic season. 

I’ve followed artistic director Olivier Wevers and his dancers since their first show at On the Boards. Like so many performing arts groups, Whim W’Him pivoted to digital presentations during the pandemic, and I watched those. Although the company returned to live shows last season, I only attended one in person, so this season opener gave me a chance to renew my admiration for Whim W'Him's very fine dancers. 

I was so happy to see two veteran company members, Karl Watson and Jane Cracovener, back on stage, along with five other talented dancers. But, to borrow a phrase from the publication Seattle Dances, I have a brand-new dance crush on Andrew McShea.

Andy McShea
photo @ Allina Yang


I’d seen McShea perform before the pandemic shutdowns, and I watched him in Whim W'Him's streamed offerings. But I can trace the start of my new crush to August 10th, when WW was part of an evening of wonderful dance presented free at the renovated Volunteer Park Amphitheater. 

That evening McShea performed a solo Wevers had choreographed for him. You know those social media posts, the ones with little arrows drawn on a photo to grab our attention? Watching McShea dance, I felt as if somebody had highlighted his body in flashing lights: Look at this dancer, Marcie!

I’m pretty sure it was the first thing I told friends about that evening.

Anyways, back to the Erickson Theatre, where Whim W’Him’s Fall 2022 program opened on September 9th.

As I mentioned, it was wonderful to see Watson and Cracovener. Nell Josephine and Michael Arellano are back this season, and equally adept. I was also struck by new company members Leah Misano and Kyle Sangil (who we actually got to see last May when Josephine was stricken with appendicitis). Everyone was great. But I couldn’t take my eyes off McShea.

To be fair, in the first dance, created by Nicole von Arx, the dancers’ heads were covered in black balaclavas for much of the time, so I wasn’t always sure who I was watching. Believe me, I did spend some time trying to figure out who was who. But in Dolly Sfeir’s hard time for dreamers, the final work of the evening, the masks were off, the dancers were distinctly visible and McShea just mesmerized me.

Michael Arellano, left, Jane Cracovener and Andy McShea
photo @ Allina Yang


hard time for dreamers, theatrical and slightly absurd in a Pina Bausch-esque way, is set on and among a collection of early 20th century furniture, with costumes reminiscent of that same era. The three women wear brightly colored dresses with puffed cap sleeves and waist sashes, designed by Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Mark Zappone. For the men, Zappone created suits and vests cut from wide patterned plaid fabrics, paired with a variety of hats, from straw boaters to bowlers. 

Sfeir, who is also a filmmaker, gives each dancer a character to inhabit. Josephine was a sort of haughty socialite; Sangil, a tough. McShea was a sort of bittersweet clown.

I was gobsmacked by his ability to seemingly melt his bones. One moment he’d be upright; the next, his body had dissolved to the floor, his legs and arms heading in directions that defied anatomy.

Andy McShea, photo @ Jim Coleman


McShea has sharp, high cheekbones, and an intensity in his eyes that contrast with his body’s fluidity. It was fascinating to watch how he paired those with the singular qualities of the other company members, qualities that transcend the dances they perform, like character traits that define us as individuals.

That's been one of my favorite things about watching Whim W’Him over the years. We may never meet Wevers’ skilled dancers one one one, but we get to know them because they bring their full selves--and their considerable technical and artistic gifts--to every work.

Jim Kent, center, supported by Whim W'Him company members in Olivier Wevers' 
This is Not the Little Prince, photo courtesy Whim W'Him


Dancers' performing lives are short, so we’re constantly meeting new artists at Whim W'Him and every other dance company. It's bittersweet indeed. The great Jim Kent left Whim W’Him last year after almost 12 seasons; Liane Aung departed last spring and both of them will be sorely missed. 

Liane Aung, photo @ Bamberg Fine Arts



But where wonderful artists leave, new talents step up to fill the void. I look forward to getting to know the new company members, and to stoke my dance crush on Andrew McShea.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Moving Beyond Time, Place, and Circumstance

 

Leah Terada, rear, looks over Liane Aung's arm in A Liminal Space
photo @ Henry Wurtz, courtesy Seattle Dance Collective

When the pandemic started two and a half years ago, I (like many fans of live performance) wondered what it would be like to live without the very particular thrill of settling into my seat, alongside fellow audience members, collectively anticipating a new dance, a new play, a new concert.

Somehow, we all adjusted to art’s new digital delivery system. The dance world offered up everything from older recordings of live shows to odd Zoom pastiches. As the pandemic dragged on, artists adapted to the new norm, moving beyond simple video captures to create ingenious new work for our small screens.

This fall most performance venues are welcoming back live audiences, but Seattle Dance Collective’s latest film offering, A Liminal Space, conceived and directed by Henry Wurtz with choreographer Bruno Roque, reminded me, first, that digital offerings are here to stay. Second, that they can be as evocative and satisfying as a live performance.

Leah Terada crawls out from the white fabric cube
photo @ Henry Wurtz


A Liminal Space begins inside a white cloth cube. Dancer Leah Terada lies on a bed of soil, her off-white pants and sweater covered with dark loam as she rolls and writhes. She rises from the dirt and spots a pinpoint of light, ripping through her fabric enclosure with the help of fellow dancer Liane Aung, who is just outside. Together they dance on a wide Puget Sound beach, their curved arms seemingly gathering in the sun and salt-water breezes as they revel in their freedom.

The film moves both the cube and the dancers onto a grassy meadow, then into a lush forest grove. Aung and Terada are dressed alike, in light slacks and sweaters, their dark hair styled into identical single braids that hang down their backs. Are they doppelgangers? Mirror images of the same person? As Fabian ReimAir’s original score builds in momentum, the two women dance in unison, circle one another, lie side by side, fingers lightly brushing up against the other’s body.

Terada and Aung working together to escape the cube
photo @ Henry Wurtz



The concept is simple, maybe even simplistic: here’s what it’s like to be caged up, then released. We all remember how it felt when we first emerged from pandemic quarantine; how we felt when we first met up with friends, family, even strangers, after months of enforced social distancing. We were confined in our own versions of the white cube; slowly we were freed to experience the wider world and to enjoy human interaction again. Roque’s choreography performed by these two dancers, plus the magnificence of a Pacific Northwest summer, combine to give A Liminal Space more heft than it might have had in the hands of lesser artists.

Liane Aung, who left Olivier Wevers’ company Whim W’Him this spring after several seasons, is a standout dancer. She imbues each movement with a crisp clarity that draws the viewer’s eye. Leah Terada, a corps de ballet dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, has a softer approach to Roque’s choreography, although she’s no less compelling to watch. Together they create a physical harmony that elevates this short film.

Leah Terada, photo @ Henry Wurtz


Terada is having a moment of sorts, emerging from the relative anonymity of PNB’s corps. Two years ago, she danced on a dock with fellow PNB company member Miles Pertl in a lovely short film The Only Thing You See Now, another Seattle Dance Collective commission. Terada was featured in several PNB offerings last season, giving ballet audiences a chance to see her versatility. And I was awed by her complete dedication to her art form while watching her earlier this summer as she performed choreographer Eva Stone’s punishing solo, one of a series created for Stone’s site-specific Sculptured Dance on Whidbey Island.

The joy of a dance film like Wurtz’ A Liminal Space is that we get a close, even intimate, view of Terada and Aung. We savor the expression on Terada’s face when she first escapes her white cube, watch them watch each other as they start a duet. We see how Aung gives a physical weight to Roque’s choreography, the way she angles an elbow or crouches low into her knees. Meanwhile Terada almost seems to float above Aung, her version of these same movements seemingly weightless. These are details we’d miss if this dance was performed live. In fact, A Liminal Space could never be live; it’s a piece of art created by a camera intended for a screen. It’s beauty is fleeting, like the tangy scent of the salt water carried on the breeze.

One of the many lessons the pandemic has reinforced is the myriad ways performance can pack an emotional wallop. I now cherish each opportunity to sit in a darkened theater, the tingle of anticipation before the stage lights come up on a live show. But as I watched Terada and Aung whirling on the sand in the early morning sunshine, I felt a different kind of joy. I’m grateful for the way artists adapted to changed circumstances, the way they found new ways to illuminate our collective human experience. Thanks to Seattle Dance Collective for making a space for this to continue.

Monday, June 6, 2022

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

 

Sarah Pasch, center, with Elle Macy, left, and Chelsea Adomaitis in Twyla Tharp's
Waiting at the Station, 2013. photo @ Angela Sterling

When dance journalists write about ballet, we’re usually focused on the choreographers or the principal dancers, the orchestra, or the sets, costumes and lighting.

We note new creations, exemplary performances, on-stage partnerships and the like. I think of us a bit like magpies, lured from one bright, shiny object to the next. When a beloved ballet star gives their last performance, we're likely to note their departures in a multitude of media outlets. The accolades are usually well-deserved; unfortunately, we’re not quite so attentive when other hard-working dancers decide it's time to leave their performing careers behind. 

And that’s too bad, because I think of the corps de ballet in particular as the hardest working, often least recognized, group of dancers in show business. This week Pacific Northwest Ballet says goodbye to two corps members: Guillaume Basso and Sarah Pasch. The company also bids farewell to elegant PNB soloist Joshua Grant.

Joshua Grant-Montoya, left, with his husband Christopher Grant-Montoya and canine family members in their new school, Dance Conservatory Seattle. photo courtesy Joshua Grant-Montoya


One minute to recognize Grant, who has appeared in everything from new work by David Dawson to Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo et Juliette, where his Paris unsuccessfully wooed a reluctant Juliet. 

Joshua Grant as Paris in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Romeo et Juliette. photo @ Angela Sterling


But Grant, a veteran of Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo, was just as arresting as Mother Ginger in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, both for his facility mincing along on stilts supporting a 60+ pound costume that hides a troupe of kids and his brilliant comedic timing.

Joshua Grant as Mother Ginger with PNB school students in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
photo @ Elise Bakketun 

But back to the corps de ballet, dancers who are particularly indispensable when a company like PNB mounts big productions like Nutcracker or Swan Lake. While our eyes may be glued to the Sugar Plum Fairy (or Mother Ginger), or to Odette and Siegfried’s doomed love story, we can’t help but be awed by twirling Snowflakes, or the amazing bevy of swans who take the stage in Swan Lake’s Act 2, hopping in from the wings with precision and unity. It’s hard work, physically and mentally. Odette and Siegfried get several night’s rest in between performances, but those swans grind out shows every night.

PNB corps de ballet members in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, 2018.
Sarah Pasch is at far right. photo @ Angela Sterling


Leading PNB’s pack (or should I saw flock?) this year with her trademark elegance and poise was ten-year corps de ballet member Pasch.

“It was my fourth time around with this ballet,” says the 31-year old. “I still love it.”

It will be one of many memories Pasch savors next fall, when she trades the Marion Oliver McCall Hall stage for an elementary school classroom. While the dancers were sidelined during the pandemic, Pasch used her time to complete a Bachelor’s degree from Western Governor’s University, and to focus on her now two-year old daughter Etta, who she’s raising with her husband, PNB soloist Ezra Thomson.

“The pandemic actually kind of worked in my favor,” Pasch explains. “I had planned to take time off school and work when Etta was born (January, 2020). Things changed, and I wasn’t dancing (because of the pandemic), so even though I had a newborn baby at home, I did have time to do school.”

Last fall, Pasch needed a few more months leave from PNB to complete her student teaching. She told her boss, Artistic Director Peter Boal, that she’d be back for Nutcracker, but would retire from the company this summer.

“I kinda used it as a consolation prize,” Pasch laughs. “If you let me do this, I’ll retire and you can hire some younger dancers!”

Sarah Pasch as the Stepmother in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Cendrillon. photo @ Angela Sterling


In the meantime, Pasch has used her position as one of the senior corps members to help guide some of PNB’s newer dancers. Boal says Pasch’s grace and unobtrusive but steady presence in the studio has earned her the respect of her peers, and her boss.

“Every company has undesignated leaders like Sarah, who see the bigger scope of the rehearsal process.” Boal wrote in an email. “She knows what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. She will be missed.”

Sarah Pasch with Dammiel Cruz-Garrido in Ulysses Dove's Red Angels, 2018.
photo @ Lindsay Thomas


Pasch leaves PNB on a high note. She’s scheduled to dance in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels with fellow corps member Dammiel Cruz-Garrido in the company’s Encore performance June 12th. She first saw this ballet when she joined PNB School’s Professional Division in 2009.

“I was out in the audience,” says Pasch, “and I was like, ‘I have to do that role!’”

Boal cast her in it several years later, which she says was a big deal for her; as a corps dancer Pasch hasn’t had regular opportunities to  perform solo roles. She considers Red Angels to be one of her career highlights, along with a stint in George Balanchine’s Rubies.

Sarah Pasch, center with, from left, Chelsea Adomaitis, James Yoichi Moore and Elle Macy in 2013 production of Tharp's Waiting at the Station. photo @ Angela Sterling


Another highlight was originating the role of Golden Girl, one of a trio featured in Twyla Tharp’s Waiting at the Station, created for PNB in 2013. The ballet is one of three Tharp works that make up PNB’s final program of this artistic season. Although COVID forced the company to cancel opening weekend performances, Pasch is scheduled to reprise the role this weekend (June 9-12), if the virus allows the shows to go on.

“It feels like full circle,” she says. “To have a role created on you is so cool. It feels very precious to me, and I’m so excited I get to dance it again.”

This summer, Pasch will tour with PNB to New York and Los Angeles before stepping away from professional ballet for good. She acknowledges her life will be different come September, when her husband heads back to the ballet studio while she takes her place in front of a classroom. Pasch is eager to begin this new career, but says ballet will always be with her.

“I’ll really miss that magic of the curtain coming up, being onstage in costume. There’s nothing like it,” she acknowledges. “I’m just grateful for the audience here, the career I’ve had, this home I’ve created at PNB.”

 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Return of the Swan

Lesley Rausch as Odette in Pacific Northwest Ballet's past production of  Swan Lake
photo @ Lindsay Thomas

 

Early Spring sunshine streams into a small Pacific Northwest Ballet studio, casting shadows on two dancers, one in dark sweat pants and a tee shirt, the other dressed in a purple leotard, stiff white tutu and pointe shoes.

They’re rehearsing a pas de deux from the classic ballet Swan Lake, under the watchful eye of PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal. Veteran company member Lesley Rausch portrays the famous White Swan, Odette. Her partner, James Kirby Rogers, is Prince Siegfried, smitten by Odette’s beauty when he encounters her with a flock of fellow swans on a moonlit lake.

Boal starts a recording of Tchaikovsky’s familiar score, and Rausch and Rogers begin a delicate courtship dance. They circle one another, warily at first, then spiraling closer. At last, Rogers steps behind Rausch and wraps her in his arms, gently folding her limbs across her chest. When they pull apart, Rausch’s arms extend behind her, like a swan’s wings, her fingers fluttering like feathers in a breeze. Rogers lifts the ballerina up over his head, once, twice and a third time, as if she weighs no more than, well, a bird. 




When the ethereal seven-minute duet ends, both dancers bend over, gulping in air through the black face masks they wear to ward off Covid.

For so many ballerinas, dancing Swan Lake’s Odette and her evil doppelganger, the Black Swan, Odile, is a career pinnacle. It’s not simply that the roles are technically demanding, a tour-de-force when performed well; it’s also the fact that the ballerina must learn the choreography and then distinguish each role dramatically for the audience (if not for the love-sick Prince who, somehow, mistakes Odile’s flamboyance for the gentle grace of his love, Odette).

James Kirby Rogers and Lesley Rausch in Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Swan Lake
                                                        photo @ Angela Sterling

Whether it’s portraying the agony of a woman captured in swan form, or whipping off Odile’s jaw-droppingly difficult 32 fouetté turns, this dual role allows a dancer to demonstrate everything she’s mastered over her career.

Lesley Rausch and her husband, former PNB dancer Batkhurel Bold, in Swan Lake
photo @ Angela Sterling


Four years ago, when PNB last presented this ballet, Rausch had the opportunity to perform Odette/Odile on opening night. “That was the fulfillment of every childhood dream I ever had,” she says. “I didn’t even realize it until it was happening.”

Two years ago, when COVID forced the world to shut down, Rausch wasn’t sure she’d make it back onstage, let alone get a chance to star in this ballet again.

Of course, ballet dancers weren’t the only ones affected by the March, 2020 pandemic closures. All but people deemed to be essential workers were sent home to puzzle out how to set up offices at their dining room tables; to squabble over laptops and internet bandwidth with their family members. 

While many of us were able to conduct business as (almost) usual, ballet dancers floundered, wondering how to keep their bodies and minds ready to perform if and when they were called back to work. PNB offered daily Zoom classes to its company members, but Rausch and many of her peers sometimes found it hard to muster the enthusiasm for remote dancing.

“I have a lot of good self-motivation normally,” Rausch says. “But there were times I just couldn’t make myself do ballet.”

Rausch felt detached from the online classes, and she didn’t have the studio space at home to move the way she wanted and needed to. Beyond space issues, like so many of us, Rausch found the daily pandemic news to be emotionally grueling. Although she felt fortunate to be financially stable, and that PNB continued to provide health insurance to all its workers, seeing the toll Covid was taking on so many people around the world was sobering.

PNB’s pandemic closure dragged on through the summer of 2020, the longest non-dancing period Rausch had experienced since she started ballet lessons as a little girl in Columbus, Ohio. She practiced Pilates daily, trying to keep her muscles toned and healthy. And she relished the time with her husband, retired PNB dancer Batkhurel Bold, who works in the hospitality industry now. Together, they explored Seattle on foot, trying to make the most of their downtime together. But dancing a full-length ballet requires specific stamina and training. The longer Rausch was away from the studio, the more concerned she became about how she’d regain what she was losing.

Batkhurel Bold with his wife Lesley Rausch. Photo @ Angela Sterling


Although the pandemic maintained its grip on us, by mid-2020, PNB had decided to go ahead with a new artistic season, albeit digitally. Most (but not all) of the dancers returned to the Phelps Center studios, where they were segregated into small pods of four to six dancers. Everyone was—and still is--masked, and tested for Covid on a regular basis, but they were dancing again, which Rausch didn’t take for granted. 

(By the way, the challenge of dancing in a mask can’t be overlooked. Imagine how you feel when you take a brisk uphill walk in your mask; sometimes it feels like you just can’t take in enough oxygen. Now think about dancers, who spend hours each day in strenuous activity, constantly masked.)


Lesley Rausch relaxing at Seattle Center, September 2021
photo @ Marcie Sillman


Although Rausch was thrilled to be back in the studios, even masked, it was by no means ballet as usual. Covid protocols dictated that only dancers who lived together could touch one another in the studio or onstage, or do the kind of partnering a ballet like Swan Lake requires.

“We’re very used to touching all the time,” she says. “It’s a building where people hug frequently, where corrections are hands-on. This (Covid protocols) was a seismic shift, and it was scary for us all.”

Lesley Rausch and former PNB partner Jerome Tisserand rehearsing Swan Lake in 2018.
photo @ Lindsay Thomas

Beyond the Covid protocols, the journey back to back to ballet-readiness wasn’t easy, particularly for older dancers like Rausch, who turned 40 in late 2021. The art form’s physical demands frequently force dancers to leave the profession by their late 30’s. A few, like Rausch’s former colleague Noelani Pantastico, hang on into their 40’s. (Pantastico retired this February at age 41). 

Rausch found the work to retrain her body to be grueling; after a day in the studio, she often went home and just cried from the pain of, for example, building back the strength in her feet.

“You know, when I was younger, I could walk in off the street, slap on my pointe shoes and go right into rehearsal,” she muses. “I can’t even imagine that now!” Rausch is far more aware of her body’s strengths and weaknesses than she was 20 years ago, and much more cautious about potential injuries, so she’s been slow and methodical about her re-training.

Eight months into this artistic season, Rausch is nursing a sore back, which kept her out of two productions earlier this year. Bolstered by a brace, she’s thrown herself into Swan Lake rehearsals, determined to be back onstage in the coveted dual role. “Every day is different,” she muses. “Some are better than others.”

Every morning, before she even arrives at PNB’s Seattle Center studios, she spends a couple of hours preparing her body for the physical toll the full day of rehearsals will exact on her. “I take a very, very, very, hot shower,” she laughs. Rausch then runs through a series of Pilates exercises, focusing especially on her back. But she also relies heavily on the expertise of PNB physical therapist Boyd Bender and Laura Bannister, a PT at Avant Studio.

“I feel like I’m stronger after a year and a half away. I’ve tended to old injuries,” Rausch says. “I definitely feel more confidence that I’m able to do my job.”

Beyond the physical re-adjustments, Rausch found PNB to be a very different dance company when she returned in August, 2020. More than a half dozen of her contemporaries decided to retire or leave Seattle during the pandemic, including her longtime stage partner Jerome Tisserand, who danced her Prince Siegfried in PNB’s 2018 Swan Lake production. 

Tisserand's departure was wrenching for Rausch, who had built up a level of comfort and trust with him after years dancing together. Now she’s working to build that stage relationship with James Kirby Rogers. In rehearsal they work on small nuances: how Rogers can help her into a turn, or where he should hold her waist when he prepares to lift Rausch into the air.

James Kirby Rogers with Lesley Rausch, Otto Neubert in background
photo @ Angela Sterling for Pacific Northwest Ballet

Like Rogers, most of PNB’s new company members are much younger than Rausch. Although she’s one of only a handful of veterans at the company, Rausch isn’t ready to step away from a life that has defined her since childhood. She decided to be a ballerina when she was 10 years old, and her commitment hasn’t wavered. “I had a five-minute solo,” she recalls, “and I had this moment of just feeling like, ‘This is it!’ I just felt alive.”



She feels the same way today.

Aside from family, ballet has been the one constant in her life for more than 35 years. “It has been with me through the good and the bad, the ugly and beautiful. I think it starts to become even more cherished when you contemplate that it won’t be part of your life much longer.”

A year ago, Rausch wasn’t sure what the future held. She’s a certified Pilates instructor, and she’s been building her own business, but Rausch wasn’t quite ready to jump into this new pursuit full-time. When she learned that Peter Boal had included Swan Lake in the company’s current season line-up, it was the signal she needed. Rausch signed her contract, and prayed that her body would be up to the task ahead. 

Her gamble seems to have paid off. Not only does she get another chance to star in Swan Lake; she and Rogers will dance on opening night. It’s the opportunity Rausch could only dream about two years ago.

“Now I just feel gratitude for my body, that it can still do the things I ask it to do.”

And, while no one can predict the future with any certainty, Rausch is betting both on her body and her artistry to carry her into another year with PNB. Last month she decided to return for her 21st season in the company, to help celebrate PNB’s 50th anniversary.

Before then, audiences can see Lesley Rausch perform Odette/Odile on opening night of PNB’s production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Kent Stowell. The ballet runs April 15-24 at McCaw Hall.

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Amanda Morgan Never Stops

 

Dancer and choreographer Amanda Morgan, photo @ Jessamy Lennon

Last week Amanda Morgan was tapping her heart out in the Pacific Northwest Ballet production of Justin Peck’s sneaker ballet, The Times Are Racing. This weekend, Morgan is at the helm of a new show she’s producing under the auspices of her own venture, The Seattle Project.

The show, truth be told, includes three dance films and three live dances, including a duet Morgan created for Marco Farroni and her PNB colleague, apprentice Zsilas Michael Hughes.

Morgan launched The Seattle Project at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit. She wanted to provide a creative outlet for her own work, and for that of other BIPOC and Queer artists. Although the Project isn’t limited to dance, Morgan cheerfully admits that, as a dance artist, she gravitates to the art form.

Morgan describes her latest choreographic effort as “more experimental” than work she’s made in the past. This new duet is literally split in two: Hughes and Farroni spend 2/3 of the performance separated from one another, on the different stages--one a platform built directly over the main floor, accessible only via a steep wooden ladder.

Farroni, an experienced performer (including work with Spectrum Dance Theatre and choreographer Dani Tirrell) starts on the upper level, while Hughes first appears directly below Farroni, seated on a stool. Eventually, the two dancers join forces, and when they do, their distinctly different movements converge as well.

This weekend’s show also features work by Akoiya Harris, Devin Munoz, Christopher D’Ariano, Leah Terada and the Seattle premier of a film by Nia-Amina Minor, called Without Ever Leaving the Ground (She Flew).

Because Morgan holds down a demanding day job with PNB, she doesn’t schedule Seattle Project performances very far in advance. Look for her this summer on the Seattle waterfront, and presenting work with the Art in the Parks program. Morgan says audiences should expect the unexpected when it comes to her choreography. She’s always eager to try something new, even if it falls short of her imagination.

“At least I made stuff,” Morgan says. “At least I used my voice.”

The Seattle Project’s truth be told debuts at the Northwest Film Forum on Saturday, April 2 and repeats Sunday, April 3.