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On Stage

12 Minutes Max

When artists are on the clock

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spoiler Alert: If you’re part of the latest “12 Minutes Max” showcase taking place March 3-4 at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, you probably won’t want to read too much more of this missive.

That’s because until the lights dim and the spotlight comes up on the dance pieces, theater shorts and films that will be highlighted at the late-winter soiree, most of those involved in the adjudicated performances won’t have seen each other’s work before.

For those in the audience who will also be experiencing the eight works for the first time, rest assured that the contemporary and experimental performances won’t test the limits of your attention span. With a directive to keep each offering at 12 minutes or less—an idea that was first put into action when Seattle’s On the Boards created the concept in 1979, and that the Firehouse has been furthering since 2013—the multi-disciplinary collaborations are designed to keep things moving.

In the dance spectrum, students from Opus Performing Arts School and choreographer Diane Williams will present “Two Kinds,” which explores physical and emotional contrasts between doing and feeling. “Grace Filled Night,” performed by members of Jubilee Dance Company and Dancing for Joy, focuses on the awareness found through healing from difficult emotions.

“I was inspired to create this piece based on my own personal experience with grief, anxiety and depression and working with teens who I have mentored through some of these same emotions, as well,” choreographer Maluhia Vander Griend says. “My hope as an artist is that my dancers and the audience will connect with this piece on a personal level.”

In performance artist Sarah Schermer’s “Sealskin,” the dancer and actress was inspired by the Selkie myth of humans who can also live as seals. Using movement, music and story scrolls, she created a myth of her own. “What does it mean to lose your soul-skin?” she posits. “How often do we give or have taken bits of ourselves that are essential to our ability to live fully?”

Schermer also worked with Jenna Veatch on the short film Here’s What Happened. Myth also figures in this work as the two women explore the concept of transformation through both curiosity and connection.

The remaining offerings are films that touch on everything from love lives to fruit to adventure and beyond.

In Leftovers, actors portray a couple attempting to navigate living together even though their relationship is kaput. A Year in the Life takes an in-depth look at the lifecycle of raspberries over the course of a year in Whatcom County. An “armchair motorcycle adventure” through the back roads of Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado can be experienced in Let’s Go for a a Ride.

Finally, Duet from Home features Bellingham Repertory Dance members Brooke Evans and Diane Williams bringing choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott’s visions to life. Nolan Alan McNally filmed the piece, Firehouse founder Matt Christman provided the lighting design and, together, they all explore how movement, visual media and innovation can come together to create something beautiful—in 12 minutes or less.

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