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Monday, May 16, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

Dance Review

Fainting Spells founder steps out on her own

Special to The Seattle Times

After more than 10 years of intense collaboration, 33 Fainting Spells founders Dayna and Gaelen Hanson are taking time out to work on individual projects. Dayna Hanson's first solo piece, "Spirit Under the Influence," brings a different style to the fore: looser, more grainy and rough-edged in texture, intensely personal and emotionally accessible.

"Spirit" weaves together a variety of influences from the philosophies of Bruce Lee ("Be like water") to the films of John Cassavetes. The video score, by performance artist Linas Phillips, who also served as Hanson's stage director, plays with the style and images of Cassavetes' 1974 "Woman Under the Influence." Footage on two different screens, one large and one the size of an old-fashioned slide show, is activated by Hanson with a remote control while she narrates the action and interacts with the filmed images. She is delicately lit by Dave Proscia.

Now playing

"Spirit Under the Influence," presented by Northwest Film Forum and 33 Fainting Spells, continues at 8 p.m. Thursday- Saturday. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., Seattle; $12.50-$15 (800-838-3006 or

The autobiographical "Spirit" follows Hanson's purchase and conversion of a 1980 Mercedes to run on vegetable oil, a messy and challenging undertaking that becomes a metaphor for other untidy but necessary changes Hanson is making in her life: the completion of her divorce, her pursuit of spirituality.

Hanson includes her two sons and her parents as characters in this piece to powerful effect. One of the most purely beautiful sequences is of her father doing a Tai Chi routine in a garden, hovering above Hanson, his arms reaching like wings while she performs the same steps on the stage below. Video of the two adolescent boys, whether talking with profound insight about the way they see the world, performing or refusing to perform dance steps with their mother, or acting out scenes of family life were dramatic, funny and affecting.


Thursday night, Northwest Film Forum

Throughout "Spirit" Hanson plays with the ways in which the physical context of speech, the expression or posture of the speaker, can completely alter its meaning. In one hilarious sequence she is frying a cheese sandwich for her two sons, while talking about love. Using the tempo and intonation of a self-help guru, flashing the cheese knife for gestural emphasis, she could be advocating pure hatred. In touching contrast she talks, in another scene, directly and simply about how love lies on the other side of fear.

In a vivid sequence, Hanson, knocked unconscious while trying to steal vegetable oil from a Dumpster, has an "out of body" moment, and dances on the street in her blond Gena Rowlands wig while huge gas-guzzling trucks zoom by. Here the quixotic courage of trying to make some small difference, either in the environment or in taking the risk of personal artistic expression, is given intense physical form.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company




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