With all of the dance companies in Seattle, there is one that consistently flies below the radar. ARC Dance Company was founded by Marie Chong in 1999 but it hasn’t seemed to find the audience it deserves. The troupe’s annual summer concerts at the Leo K. Theatre typically draw a committed but small group of patrons. That is a shame both for the company and local dance fans who are missing out on some enjoyable, if not groundbreaking, evenings of ballet-inflected modern dance.
This year’s production features world premieres by two out of town choreographers with national and international credentials; both showcase the technical and acting skills of ARC’s talented troupe.
“Pastorale,” by Penny Hutchinson, a founding member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, is a wacky send-up of classical ballet, complete with ballerinas in tutus (but not pointe shoes) and a foppish male danseur. While two of the ballerinas cavort around the stage vying for the fop’s affections, the third frantically tries to escape his embrace. Haydn’s “Clock Symphony” provides a tick-tock accompaniment to the merriment which is overseen by a huge cardboard cocker spaniel. Hutchinson’s ability to invert traditional ballet steps is endless, and on opening night all four dancers — Lucie Baker, Noel Dilworth, Amanda Loh and Geoffrey Kropp — took to the goofiness with aplomb. Loh, an apprentice with the company, brought an air of elegance to even the most comical movements, and Baker, as the pursued love interest, took her frenetic comings and goings precipitously up to but never over the top of hilarity.
The other world premiere is “Wave Atlas,” a tender love duet by Alex Ketley, director of San Francisco’s contemporary dance company The Foundry, and a former member of San Francisco Ballet. Ketley pushes a couple — danced by Melissa Bourkas and Andrew Wojtal — into a tangle of arms and legs as they move toward and away from each other in an exploration of the intricacies of male-female relationships. Bourkas is a riveting performer, sexy despite her costume of cargo pants and tank top, and if her charisma occasionally overwhelmed Wojtal’s quieter presence, the two were evenly matched in physical strength and flexibility.
Marie Chong’s “No Regrets” from 2009 featured the entire company of nine, with male dancers Cameron Evans, Kropp, and Wojtal providing the most dynamic moments. Evans has a sinewy presence that makes every step an expression of male prowess and the three men together gave heft to Chong’s flowing style. “No Regrets” appeared a little cramped on the Leo K.’s small stage, and with the company’s beautiful extensions, it would be nice to see this gentle work in a larger space.
Rounding out the program are Kirk Midstkog’s “Earth and Sky,” Jason Ohlberg’s “Song of the Siren” and “The Space Between” by Betsy Cooper. Although none rose to the level of the three other works, they were all well crafted and easy on the eyes.
If you go: ARC Dance Company, Leo K. Theatre at Bagley Wright Theatre, 155 Mercer St. through July 23. Tickets $18-35 at the box office, by phone at (206) 352-0798 or online at www.arcdance.org.
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