Arts and Entertainment

Whidbey Island Dance Theatre presents its annual Dance and Choreography Showcase

Whidbey Island Dance Theatre
Whidbey Island Dance Theatre's company dancers rehearse a new piece, 'The Reckonin,' for the Dance and Choreography Showcase opening next weekend.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of David Welton

The late, great modern dance choreographer Martha Graham said that dancers were the messengers of God.

If you’ve seen a good dance concert, you probably know something of what Graham meant.

Even if you have no connection to dance and are convinced it’s not something you’d appreciate, the young dancers of the Whidbey Island Dance Theater might just change your mind.

The company has been working hard lately with rehearsals, concerts, new choreography, guest artists, winning awards at out-of-state festivals and preparing its annual Dance and Choreography Showcase for the place that matters most: the Whidbey community.

The company and its guest dancers will perform premiere works by both island and Seattle-area choreographers, and introduce a new piece from Australian-turned-Los Angeles, Calif. choreographer Aaron Cash entitled “The Reckoning.”

The piece was selected for performance at the Pacific Festival of Regional Dance America in Provo, Utah in May.

Company artistic director Susan Sandri was visibly overjoyed by the company’s reception at the adjudication.

She said one judge called Whidbey Island Dance Theatre’s performance of the “The Reckoning” “powerful, beautifully sculpted,” and noted the unexpected arm, hand and shoulder work and the partnering.

Sandri related how adjudicator Deborah Hadley, known in ballet circles from her years with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, praised all three of the works presented by the Whidbey dancers.

She noted the breadth of styles achieved while maintaining high artistic standards.

“This is the strongest we have seen the company look — in both modern and ballet,” Hadley said.

She went on to name the island group as the “most versatile” of the Regional Dance America companies, the juried national association of youth ballet companies.

Whidbey audiences will be treated to performances of everything Hadley saw in February, including choreographer Laurentia Barbu’s “Waiting for Godot,” which received a “Special Mention” prize at the adjudication. Hadley called the work “totally engaging,” “funny, original” and “great theatre.”

Sandri, no slouch in the choreography department herself, has created a ballet entitled “Joie de Vivre.” It’s the first classical ballet the company has ever performed for adjudication.

Hadley gave the company kudos for doing this ballet so well.

In addition to the three works the dancers performed at the adjudication, choreographers Andrea Binder and Danielle Wilkins have built some new works for the showcase.

“Fearless” is Binder’s high-energy thrill ride of a dance. It’s been described as “Indiana Jones meets modern jazz.”

“I love the energy in it, and her use of huge hoops,” Sandri said. She praised Binder’s ability to always find something new and special hidden in this company of dancers’ abilities and bring it to the surface.

Wilkins has created a piece based on the anatomy of the brain and electro-physiology.

“Cerebral Tremors” is what Sandri called “an excellent work from a professional dancer who is really someone to watch in modern dance.”

Also on the program are Jamee Pitts’s “Controlled... Turmoil,” another Binder piece, a Twyla Tharp original and a dance by student-choreographer and company member Arryn Davis.

The showcase is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25 at the South Whidbey High School auditorium.

Tickets cost $18 for adults and $10 for youths. Order online or by contacting the WIDT box office at 341-2221.

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