This weekend, a dream of Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico will leap to life when the new company they have co-founded, Seattle Dance Collective, presents its debut program at Vashon Center for the Arts.
The production, including works by five choreographers from three continents, will be performed by the 10-member company at 7 p.m. Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, and 1 p.m. Saturday, July 13 and Sunday, July 14, in VCA’s Katherine L. White Hall.
The company’s aim to present world-class dance on Vashon might seem too good to be true to island dance aficionados, but as it turns out, it is an equal story of luck for Moore and Pantastico.
The pair had shared ideas about starting a dance company or summer dance festival, situated on an island, but their plans snapped quickly into place last October when they visited Vashon Center for the Arts for the first time. They’d received a tip, they said, from Aya Stark Hamilton, a PNB board member, who had told them about the new, well-appointed arts center.
In a phone interview, Moore and Pantastico shared their memories of taking their first tour of VCA with then artistic-director Angela Gist and Vashon Center for Dance’s director, Vadne White.
“It felt like home right away,” said Moore, explaining that the architecture firm LMN Architects had designed VCA as well as overseen the renovation of McCaw Hall, where the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs. The contours of Katherine L. White Hall, he said, felt familiar and comforting.
Pantastico said that during the tour, she too was struck by the thought that the hall, with 300 seats and a sprung dance floor, was completely ready for them.
On on the ferry ride back to Seattle that day, they decided to form SDC.
“We both got it in our heads, this is going to happen,” Pantastico said. “There was this state-of-the-art theater sitting there, and all the stars aligned and everything opened up.”
Remarkably, the pair had not looked at any other theaters before coming to Vashon.
“We had plans to reach out to a few theaters around Seattle, but ended up not needing to,” Moore said. “VCA checked all of our boxes. We’ll be looking into Seattle area theaters in the future, but want to develop our relationship with VCA and the Vashon-Maury Island community first.”
The debut program of SDC will be made up of diverse works expressing the tastes of the founders and the virtuosity of its company members. Eight SDC dancers are from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and two are from the contemporary dance company, Whim W’Him. They include Moore, Pantastico, Angelica Generosa, Dylan Wald, Elle Macy, Elizabeth Murphy, Ezra Thomson, Jim Kent, Liane Aung and Miles Pertl.
“A lot of this program is filled with ballets that we have wanted to perform over the years,” Moore said.
Works will include “The Grey Area (an excerpt),” an award-winning piece by British choreographer David Dawson that points to a “no man’s land,” with free-flowing phrases set to Niels Lanz’s haunting score.
“Mopey,” by German choreographer Marco Goecke, is a solo work set to music by C.P.E. Bach and the 1980s rock band, The Cramps. Long a trademark solo for Moore, the piece will be performed on Vashon by PNB soloist Ezra Thomson.
Another piece in the program, a duet from “Shogun,” by Brazilian-Japanese choreographer Ivonice Satie, may come as a revelation for audience members, as the ballet is rarely performed in the United States.
Both Moore and Pantastico said they have loved their time on Vashon and felt embraced by the community.
“We want to connect and build relationships with the community, and really hear how they feel about dance and our program,” Moore said.
To that end, SDC’s island residency has included a dance immersion workshop, offered to local dance students, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9 and 10, at VCA. Slots for the workshop filled quickly, Pantastico said.
And while on Vashon, SDC’s company members will stay in private accommodations arranged by a host committee — another way for the dancers to feel at home during their time here and learn more about the community.
Moore and Pantastico both said they were impressed by Vashon’s vibrant arts and cultural scene, noting the community’s strong support for Vashon Opera and the Vashon Island Chorale.
“We just had to say yes,” Pantastico said, before joking, “The only missing piece of the puzzle for me and James is — when do we move here?”
Tickets to see the Seattle Dance Collective, $45 to $75 for evening and Sunday matinee performances, and $10 to $25 for Saturday’s family matinee, can be purchased at www.vashoncenterforthearts.org or www.seattledancecollective.org. To purchase tickets by phone, call the VCA box office at 206-259-3007.