Eclectic Samedis gives a glimpse into a more honest side of dance

Review of Les Samedis de la Danse by Jennifer K., age 17

Photo by Michael Thatcher

Most of us will never perform in a ballet. The closest we come is attending one or two performances of The Nutcracker. Watching a ballet is a magical experience, but behind the glittering costumes and ethereal movement is the intense, exhausting, and often painful practice of dancing. Les Samedis de la Danse gives audiences a peek into that practice.

Walking into the “theater” at Dance Fremont! feels like entering an ordinary dance studio. There is no stage. Curtains hang on the sides of a spacious room to form narrow wings for eager dancers to peek out from behind. Wooden barres are mounted on the wall, ready for class. Yet this unassuming space houses a unique demonstration of the more honest side of dance.

Les Samedis de la Danse (or “Saturdays of Dance”) is a program put on by Next Stage Dance Theatre and Dance Fremont! on the first Saturday of each month. Next Stage Dance Theatre is a fairly new company devoted to giving mature dancers opportunities to express themselves through movement. It also had programs for the Seattle Public Schools and local senior centers. Dance Fremont! is an academy of ballet and modern for dancers of all ages.

October’s Les Samedis de la Danse contained a wide variety of performers. Some of these were Next Stage Dance Theatre’s dancers. In the loud, swaying “Discourse/Aside,” Erin Mitchell examined human conversation by speaking random syllables in rhythm throughout the piece. Kazuko Yamazaki’s “Etude” contained traditional Japanese dancing, including a fan. All of NSDT’s pieces were very unique. They reminded me of modern art, combining stark simplicity with unusual props to create an original story or mood.

Dance Fremont!’s level III ballet and modern classes also performed. They were about 12 years old and provided a lovely contrast to the somewhat intense NSDT dances. Some members of Dance Fremont!’s Danceworks Company also performed. Their number channeled Audrey Hepburn. These young girls showed the enthusiasm vital to a career in dance. Looking into their faces, one could tell they loved to dance.

The show’s most memorable numbers were the excerpts from “The Exile Project,” a musical to be premiered in March, 2008. Holly Eckert is both directing and choreographing this tale of a man released from prison after 20 years. The excerpts were from a dream sequence and the choreography was superb. Vocals from Selena Whitaker-Paquiet stole the show, and the ballroom danse-esque “Tango Dreams” was my personal favorite number.

These Les Samedis de la Danse performances display multiple genres of dance, from classical ballet to modern to traditional Japanese. Because audience members are only a few feet away from the dancers, they experience a behind-the-scenes aura. They can hear shoes squeak and see the dancers’ eyes. They can even ask questions at the end of the show. Anyone wishing to know more about the dance world should definitely attend at least one of these “Saturdays of Dance.”

Jennifer K.
October 6th, 2007

Les Samedis de la Danse
Next Stage Dance Theatre
Next Performance: Saturday, November 3rd @ 7 p.m. @ Dance Fremont!
Fall Repertoire Performances: November 16th & 17th @ Velocity Main Space
Phone: 206-633-0812 x 3

Note: There are no over-the-phone sales for NSTD shows, but it is expected that there will be plenty of tickets available at the door, and Teen Tix members are strongly encouraged to attend!

Dance Fremont! is located at 4015 Stone Way N. (Fremont/Wallingford). It is served by buses 16, 26, 31, 45, 46, 74 and 82. For bus times:
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