You might go to a Spectrum Dance Theater performance for many reasons: you never go see dance, and you think maybe it’s about time; you heard Spectrum is controversial, and you’re feeling feisty these days; you got the ticket from a friend of yours who came down with the flu; you read that Spectrum’s current show, “Shot,” is about Black Lives Matter, and you want to do something political and be a good citizen. Or, maybe you're a season subscriber welcoming another adventure. Any of these might be your reason to see this show during its brief run at Seattle Rep.
Paul Giarratano and Fausto Rivera Contreras; Photo by Nate Watters
Let me give you one more: this show is unlike anything you have ever seen and you will remember it forever.
Executive Artistic Director Donald Byrd does have something of a reputation for edginess. “You either love it or hate it,” gets bandied about in the Seattle arts community. Is anything really that simple, even in this polarized era? Does everything come down to black and white? This fascinating and transcendent performance might change your mind; if it doesn’t, it may at least stir thoughts on the power of the arts in this divided, dangerous, heartbroken world.
In “Shot,” Byrd starts with facts: killings of unarmed black men and women by police happen with tragic frequency in America. You’ve heard about it, talked about it, perhaps argued about it. As with so much in our public discourse, the narrative is rendered to simple extremes: Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter.
Byrd places his discourse of movement on the steps and street in front of a massive, multi-level, whitewashed screen, embedded in which stands an arched doorway and rising steps flanked by two glass-globed light-posts: a hall of justice, or perhaps the impassive façade of a precinct police station. Fourteen young dancers enter as lights flicker and flash; sounds of police action rise; a mosaic of images flutter like torn pages of a newspaper across the screen, images reduced to syllables, memes, utterances of all-to-familiar desperation, violence, and fear.
Out of this cacophony, shapes emerge: life in motion, life in the body, in many colors and shapes and settings: solo, pairs, triads, and community. This may be new to you, this experience of astonishment and awe at the craft of dance: young bodies lithe, alluring, exerting a discipline of expression with meaning beyond thought or words – pure movement.
Spectrum’s ensemble of skilled dancers transports us beyond words to a language of the body and the heart. “Shot” also features the music of two important artists: Jaimeo Brown and Julius Eastman. Transcendence and fusion of sound create another rich layer in the multi-sensory experience of “Shot.” The soundtrack is a flowing river of tones, voices, genres, ethnicities: blues filtered through the news, global rhythms in the local pulse of life and death.
|Mary Sigward,Robert Moore, Paul Giarratano, Fausto Rivera Contreras, Jaclyn Wheatley, |
Nia-Amina Minor, Lena Silverman, Emily Pihlaja, Alexander Pham,
Blair Jolly Elliot and Sherman DeWayne Wood
The human lives depicted and remembered on this street are composed of many threads: work, family, hope, loss, heavy burdens made bearable by the light of love and community.
Spectrum Dance Theater
Executive Artistic Director Donald Byrd
At Seattle Repertory Leo K. Theater
January 19 - February 4, 2017