Broadway Performance Hall, Seattle, WA; October 20, 2013

Dean Speer

Cameron (8), William (10) and Timothy Lynch Photo © Joe Lambert

Cameron (8), William (10) and Timothy Lynch
Photo © Joe Lambert

Timothy Lynch presented and performed in “Threads: A Journey of Boys who Dance,” a lecture based on his more than 10 years of experience teaching ballet to boys at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School,on Sunday, October 20 at Seattle’s Broadway Performance Hall.  The piece showcased his choreography that featured an all-male cast and was described as “…A Master’s thesis lecture/performance bringing boys that [sic. who] dance to the forefront.”

For the past year and half Lynch has been attending the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in pursuit of his Master’s degree in dance. He began his research with boys last year, documenting and investigating his 100+ boys at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Tim states that he threads his own personal journey from young trainee to professional dancer to dance educator and that he uses this experience to spotlight his interest in his students’ physical and technical development, their camaraderie, and having a male educator as a role model.

Lynch was quoted:“My hope is that dance becomes mainstream, and that all boys who want to dance would pursue it as they would any other sport and be supported by their families, teachers, and peers, not just in Seattle, but throughout the nation. I am passionate about teaching… Seeing my students achieve great things fuels me to keep learning and continue to root for them.”

I enjoyed the program and would say that he was mostly successful. I would only have changed a couple of things, principally for clarification. For example, it opened with Lynch walking onto the stage looking as if he was fussing with one of those lapel microphones when, in actuality, he was sewing men’s ballet slippers. Timing is everything and this need not have been a misconception if he’d verbally told us up front what he was doing and, more significantly, the importance of it, having assumed we collectively knew the significance and the perpetual task of sewing ballet slippers, perhaps saying something like, “All dancers, men, women, and boys have to learn how to sew their own ballet slippers. It’s like a rite of passage and a task that you do for your entire career.” After a bit, he did launch into an interesting family story of how his grandfather inculcated, through teaching him how to thread a needle, “You need to be prepared for anything.” Perhaps to have done the verbal story and the showing of the sewing concurrently might have been best.

I would have liked to have seen more examples of the difference in training between the younger crowd and the nearly professional-level men we got to enjoy at the end of the show. How did they get there? I know how, but Lynch should assume there are those in the audience who don’t – and the rest of us would have liked being reminded through demonstration. He did tell us a good example of the differences between how girls like to move and boys.

Overall, the program could have been a bit tighter and edited somewhat. Those are my principal fusses. What I really liked and enjoyed was the use of multi levels and ages and experiences. Most of the boys were from PNB but not all, including a nice handful from the Creative Dance Center.

One of the best pieces of student choreography I’ve ever seen was his, which depicted a boy being isolated and picked on by his peers, but who come around and include them ultimately in their group. Well-crafted, with the boys costumed in white shirts and ties, it suggested a formal private school setting and began with a simple left foot gesture and this theme built as the dance progressed. “Social Exclusion” is a good work and should be seen again.

Everyone were most thoroughly charmed by the interspersed video clip interviews some of the boys gave about the benefits of dance training and of their experiences. All guffawed when one youngster commented that his response to a school chum might be, “I was in the newspaper…and you weren’t!”

Lynch’s dance with his two sons – “Male Bonding”– was well-crafted, with each taking their common and shared motifs and building these into a nice dance.

The program’s climax was an excerpt (the last movement) from the 2013 PNB School Performance that was originally for most men’s levels (shown in both in a rehearsal and performance video excerpt), but here for the most advanced ones, happily showing us that they can do – which is considerable.

Lynch is clearly devoted to the craft of teaching, learning, and how the skills of imparting knowledge can best and most effectively be passed along from generation to generation.