Leo K. Theatre, Seattle, Washington; July 19, 2013

Dean Speer

One of the most interesting and artistically satisfying dance groups in the metro Seattle area is Artistic Director Marie Chong’s ARC Dance Company which just concluded its “Summer Dance at the Center” run at the Leo K. Theatre. ARC Dance provides several weeks of work for a small pool of beautifully trained and talented dancers and performs a few times a year. Open-faced, the dancers seemed relaxed and focused, executing each dance cleanly and with good energy and phrasing.

A couple of works particularly stood out – Betsy Cooper’s “Evening Song” to Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs Without Words” and Chong’s “Reflection” set to Irving Berlin’s ‘Count Your Blessings.” Chong is blessed to have three very strong male dancers and here, she used Graham Gobeille and Danny Ryan to excellent effect, pairing them to spatially interact and to “reflect” each other’s movement motifs.

While it reminded me of the palette and elements of Robbins’ “Dances At A Gathering,” Cooper’s ballet stands on its own conceptual and choreographic merit. Atmospheric, it evoked a sense of long ago and of community. Outstanding were Julianna Bicki, Alice Cao, Erin Crall, Noel Dilworth, Michael Galloway, Gobeille, Victoria Jahn, Amanda Loh, and Ryan.

Also featured on the bill were ARC Youth Dance Company and Apprentices, appearing in two works appropriate for them – “SH…Out!” and “Verdant Concerto” each created by Chong, the later just the right length; quick strong movement and a dance that concluded at the right time, neither too long or short.

Opening the program was Penny Hutchinson’s “Pastorale,” a bright and modern, balletic dance that alternately used ballet steps – including good pointe work –and modern dance as its motifs. Friday’s show featured Victoria Jahn and Graham Gobeille with Noel Dilworth and Amanda Loh.

I would have liked piano accompaniment for Mendelssohn’s beloved and familiar tunes but perhaps this can be added in future shows.

In a little over 10 years Chong has created and led one of Seattle most viable, yet not as visible or well-known arts groups, which includes an outstanding ballet school. I hope that this renown will improve over its next decade.