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Saturday, February 26, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

Dance concert at Meany is densely layered, vibrant and daring

Special to The Seattle Times

Review

Enlarge this photoNAN MELVILLE

The Sean Curran Company's collaboration with the Amelia Piano Trio continues tonight.

At most dance concerts the effect is of musicians accompanying dancers. At Meany Theater on Thursday night, the mixed program of the Sean Curran Company and the Amelia Piano Trio made it feel more as if the dancers were accompanying the music.

Curran's choreography had such lovely clarity, musicality and directness that it became almost transparent, allowing the virtuosity of the musicians to shine through.

Violinist Anthea Kreston, cellist Jason Duckles and pianist Rieko Aizawa are each superb in their own right. Together they make music that is daring, lively and completely engrossing. Add in Curran's human-scaled choreography and you get a rich combination of densely layered performance.

The program opened with Felix Mendelssohn's Trio in D minor, Op. 49, which introduced us to Aizawa's speed and sturdiness at the piano, Kreston's willingness to draw her violin notes out to their thinnest, purest tensions, and Duckles' warmth and subtlety on the cello. They also played, unaccompanied by dancers, an overture by Bela Bartok and a sumptuous Trio in E flat, D. 929, by Franz Schubert.

Curran's choreography for four dancers with the somewhat poetic name "The Nothing That is Not There and the Nothing that Is" was set to piano selections from Leos Janacek's "On An Overgrown Path." Two men and two women dressed in street clothes move sometimes in unison and sometimes in isolation. Marching across the stage four abreast, one dancer suddenly hesitates, stops and watches the others walk on. A man skirts the other three as they set themselves up in a symmetric pattern as if unwilling to conform. Belatedly, he joins in.

Curran's movement style is wide-ranging, appropriating bits from ballet, folkloric and modern but put together in exquisitely fresh movement structures. One of his most effective devices is in the way the dancers simply take a beat to look toward each other, giving the movement a base of motivation and personal relationship.

Curran performed two solos from his "Five Points of Articulation." In "Flexible While Frozen" to Antonin Dvorak's Slavonik Dance, he played with a comedic, grotesque mime persona. His shirt untucked, he sneaked in and out of the spotlight with ratlike movements.

Sean Curran Company with The Amelia Piano Trio performance repeats at 8 tonight at Meany Theater, University of Washington. $37. 206-543-4880.

In the second "Virtue Engineering" to Adagio from Violin Sonata by Janacek, he focused his dancing toward the musicians (who throughout the evening were visible playing in front of the stage). Using a white baton, he parodied the relationship of dance to music until, finally, breaking the baton in half, he made it appear as if both pieces of the baton had taken life and were forcing his arms to fly upward.

The evening closed with a beautiful piece for eight dancers, "We Are What We Were" (Janacek again from his Violin Sonata and "On an Overgrown Path"). Tiny white chairs created a picket fence around the edge of the stage in front of a scrim of dark blue sky with clouds (the effective visual design was by Mark Randall). Curran used intricate interweavings of dancers to create a dreamy, nostalgic sense of community. The pairings and groupings conveyed an elusive sense of innocence and connection.

Mary Murfin Bayley: marybayley@aol.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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