On Stage

12 Minutes Max

Talent with a time limit

At a dinner party a handful of years ago, guests congregated on our upstairs porch for post-repast cigarettes. When I went to join them, it was pointed out to me that our new across-the-street neighbor was in the middle of his own dance party.

As we watched (how could we not?) the tall, lithe figure leapt with seeming ease across a still-empty room. He shimmied. He pirouetted. He moved without abandon to music we couldn’t hear, but that was obviously inspiring him. It was a beautiful thing to behold—even if we felt a little weird watching him from our dark perch.

Not long afterward, we met the dancer. His name, we learned, was Gabriel Lukeris, and he’d moved to the neighborhood with his wife Melissa and their two sons. It was awhile, however, before we admitted we’d been privy to his midnight moves. And guess what? He didn’t care. In fact, he was glad he’d had an audience.

Although he’s a busy wine distributor, Lukeris is also devoted to modern dance, and continues to make it part of his life. He’s been dancing for more than 15 years, and graduated from Fairhaven College in 2008 with a focus on dance arts—including production, performance and choreography.

“I love so much about it,” Lukeris says. “It is an art that demands the use of your whole being—your body, mind and spirit.”

This weekend, Jan. 24-25, Lukeris will join a lineup of other local performers for the second annual “12 Minutes Max” showcase at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center. The performances, which are curated by members of the arts community, can feature everything from dance to theater, music and film. The only caveat for those who are accepted is that their creative offering must be 12 minutes, or less, in duration.

“I am so excited by this series,” Lukeris says. “This is a great showcase opportunity for the diverse performing arts culture that we have in Bellingham. I was so excited by the experience last year that I put together a new work just for submission. I already have an idea for next year.”

Lukeris adds that part of the fun of “12 Minutes Max” is not knowing who else is involved in the show until the lights come up and the stage is revealed. He’s willing to give hints about his own submission, however.

“I created a film called Modern Dance Hobbyist Revealed, which is a sequel to the film I entered last year,” he says. “It is a comedy following the trials and tribulations of an earnest hobbyist dancer, which is pretty much autobiographical.

Lukeris won’t be at the show in person on opening night because he’ll be busy celebrating his birthday at a party across the street. Luckily, attendees have been promised a viewing of an extended version of the film—and I happen to know where the best seat in the neighborhood is.

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