On Stage

Moving Right Along

Dance Gallery springs into action


It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a Dance Gallery performance, so last Friday night I wrangled a date—in this case my game-for-anything friend the librarian—and we set off for the Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

I’d alerted the powers that be that, since we were without a car and would catching a bus from downtown, we might not make it until a few minutes before show time. Luckily, we caught an earlier ride and had plenty of time to settle in. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Someone had reserved a couple seats for us directly by the front entrance, so even if we’d been late, we still would’ve been able to sneak in without raising any eyebrows.

I wasn’t surprised that someone had been conscientious enough to make sure we had a place to sit, and I knew it didn’t matter who did it. At the Dance Gallery, everyone pitches in equally to make sure things get done—whether it’s making sure a local journalist has a place to park her behind, helping rehearsals run smoothly or finding a nuanced variety of works from both local and national choreographers to present to the public.

I kept this fact in mind as the lights dimmed and the performance got underway, and I was not disappointed.

The first four dances included everything from an abstract rumination on memories and place (Kristin Torok’s “House”); a short but thrillingly sexy and insane work by, and featuring, visiting choreographer Nancy Cranbourne (“Just Gone,” which only showed last Friday and Saturday, as she won’t be around to share her moves this coming weekend); a lovely piece by Bellingham Circus Guild aerialist Dream Frohe, who was closer to the ground than she usually is, but still seemed to be miles above it; and “Pard’ner,” featuring two very different interpretations of the song “Amazing Grace” (as sung by Laura Love).

During intermission, the librarian—a former burlesque dancer who admits to attempting modern movement on a regular basis while she’s alone in her living room—told me she was already blown away by the diversity of what she’s seen.

“There are definitely stories being told here,” she observed, while pointing out it’s not just dance that the performers have to think about. She mentioned the music, costumes, lighting and props needed to bring Dance Gallery’s visions to the forefront, and expressed admiration for the longtime collective’s ability to show audiences that modern dance encompasses an entire language—not just a few words.

By the time the second round of dances came along, we knew not to try to guess what they’d be like based on their titles. Denise Lieutaghi’s “Waiting” featured women in ball gowns who could’ve been wallflowers, but instead chose to leap from chairs and find their own rhythms. Holly Bright’s “Voices of River,” which also included a film by Simon Warner, felt dangerous, and it was—you’ll see why if you go. Cranbourne’s piece, “Do Fries Come With That Shake?” made it clear that the Colorado mover and shaker is both playful and talented. The group piece was fun to watch, and made me want to see more of her work.

The librarian and I spent a few minutes chatting with some of the dancers after the show, and their smiling, sweaty faces made me realize that not only were they showing the audience a good time—but they were there because they were having a good time, too.

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