Dance…And So Much More

Karin Stevens Dancing

Karin Stevens dances in 2009 - photo by Rob Kunkle

On March 19 & 20, at 7:30p.m., Karin Stevens Dance presents a spring performance in the Great Hall of the Fremont Abbey Arts Center (4272 Fremont Avenue North.)  The show includes six new dances choreographed by Karin Stevens and performed by the members of her company.  Stevens has also chosen to showcase the considerable talents of several other artists, many of whom she met through the Abbey, and her work there as Dance Curator. 

Islamic Baroque?

Craig van den Bosch is Art Curator for the Abbey, and has been collaborating with Stevens, and her dancers, on a large project since last fall.  Inspired by the Islamic Muqarnes Domes and geometry, the dance performed will be set to a piece of re-imagined music by composer Antonio Vivaldi.

van den Bosch reworked the music.  “I’m trying to create the same feel and time frame for the dancers to follow,” with a visual dialogue.  van den Bosch has wanted to create this with previous works, in electronic composition, painting and sculpture, but has been unable until now.  As he said, “what has been eluding me is the dance component.”

Stevens has incorporated Islamic geometric patterns – triangle, square, hexagon and numbers 3, 4, 6 – into the floor patterns and the shapes of the bodies of her dancers.  “It’s pretty complex and complicated,” Stevens acknowledged.  Yet, as van den Bosch stated, “I’m excited to bring this collaboration together.” 

Improvised Dance & Music?

Stevens also met Mack Grout through the Abbey, although Grout described their first encounters as a need to “accommodate each other.”  Stevens’ dance company and Grout’s piano lessons used the same rehearsal space.  Grout, a musician, teaches music and plays jazz professionally around the Seattle area; “to make it these days you have to do all these different things.”

“It felt so natural to do music for people dancing,” he said about two original pieces he wrote for this show.  One took inspiration from chorale music while the other has “open, free chord changes.”  A jazz trio – Grout on piano, Brad Gibson on drums and Devon Lowe on bass – will perform the pieces live, along with interludes between each dance.

The show closes with a piece entirely improvised, by both the dancers and musicians.  “It’s really just fun,” Grout admitted.  At the trio “thought we would need all these cues, but it works best when we think of [the dancers] as part of the band.”  In rehearsal, they’ve done a few test improvisations and as Grout enthused, “it’s completely different every time!” 

All At The Arts Center

The show also features the 1st Cello Suite in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed live by cellist (and Abbey public relations manager) Emily Ann Peterson, an original compostition – And You Shall Renew the Face of the Ground – by local composer Dave Chapaitis, and Tabula Rasa Part 1 by Arvo Part.

“The artistic work is exhilarating,” Stevens stated about putting the show together, but it’s “a lot of balls to juggle.”  As Dance Curator, “the delight is in the relationships at the Abbey,” she admitted, but challenges remain, like trying to devise a riser system for the Great Hall.  For this performance, though, Stevens won’t perform – due to the advanced state of her pregnancy.  She still keeps going, she admitted, “I don’t know what I’d do without my husband these days.”

Tickets to the shows, either on March 19 or 20, will be available for purchase at the door – and start at $15 for general admission, $12 for those under 25 years old, and $7 for those under 12.  With only two shows, it is much safer to order tickets in advance from Brown Paper Tickets.  “I’m super excited about it,” Grout advised, “and I think people will enjoy it!”

-by Kirby Lindsay, for

 ©2010 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


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