Two years ago, Vashon Allied Arts (now Vashon Center for the Arts) presented an evening of contemporary choreography to an enthusiastic island audience. This weekend, the island arts organization will again host both on-and off-island choreographers for “Flashpoint: An Evening of Contemporary Dance.”
As a former professional dancer, VCA Director of Performing Arts Stephen Jeong conceived the idea to present contemporary dance based on his own passion for the art form and because he realized there was a receptive dance audience on the island.
“The audience raved about that first show (in 2014),” Jeong said. “People were hooting and hollering in the aisles, and even the dancers commented that they rarely see an audience so vocal and receptive to dance as that night on Vashon. Now that we finally have our new theater with a sprung dance floor, it is an exceptional time to repeat ‘Flashpoint,’ to say we finally have a space to present professional dance as part of our growing programs.”
Similar to in the 2014 show, Jeong invited a mix of choreographers — some from Vashon, others from Seattle and New York — hoping to represent a snapshot of different voices in the dance world.
Among the talent performing Saturday is New York City’s acclaimed choreographer, Gierre Godley of Project44. He will perform with four dancers from his company. The all-male troupe aims to transform preconceived notions of masculinity in the arts, while showcasing the beauty, versatility and athleticism of the male dancer. They will present “The Home I Grew Up In,” a piece inspired by a journey of self-acceptance.
More locally, Seattle-based Au Dance Collective is a group of 10 choreographers and dancers, most of whom graduated from the University of Washington’s dance program. Blending balletic lines with modern technique, traditional Indonesian dance, hip-hop and athleticism, the dancers identify themselves as “dance artists of color, women artists and queer artists.” They share a common goal to create work that challenges ideas of race, gender and class. On Saturday, the collective will perform an abstract dance inspired by family and community.
Seattle-based choreographer and dancer Kim Lusk, who appeared with Seattle’s Zoe|Juniper dance company at the previous “Flashpoint,” will return this year. Lusk is a frequent collaborator and rehearsal director for Zoe|Juniper who, according to Jeong, “is developing a unique dance vocabulary that builds on repetition and technique, and trades in humor, which is so difficult to do in dance.”
For her piece this year, called “Underdog Solos,” Lusk choreographed a clever, humorous work for three dancers that explores the theme of one-upmanship set to a percussive, original score. Each dancer tries to prove themself by showing off their technical abilities — performing a series of challenging dances with intricate footwork, tip-toe balances and tireless jumping — that swing between success and failure.
Island talent will be represented by Enson, Mann & Sjoberg: a collaborative ensemble of notable Vashon artists Martha Enson, Leah Mann, Lynelle Sjoberg and videographer Alex Carrillo. The ensemble’s piece, “In Shatter Zone,” incorporates contact improvisation, modern dance, acrobatics, physical theater and video projection. The dance explores the universal survival instincts that “we experience when the world brings us to our knees.”
Meanwhile, Maeve Haselton — a graduate of VCA’s Vashon Center for Dance and current junior studying dance at Cornish College — performed in the previous “Flashpoint” and will return this year.
“Maeve is such a strong dancer who is developing her own voice as a choreographer,” Jeong said. “It will be very interesting to see where she is now in her journey.”