By Gabrielle Nomura ///
Growing up as a serious bunhead, I never thought I would get to pop my booty like a hip-hop dancer. But secretly, I always wanted to. Having rounded up some of the most skilled dancers I know from my childhood and teen dance years to create Relay Dance Collective, this experience so far has been a great time for all of us to catch up on our friendship. It's also been an opportunity to push boundaries and explore movement styles we never had the opportunity to pursue during our years of intensive ballet and classical modern dance training (Limon, Graham, Horton, etc.). As members of Fremont Danceworks! in high school, most all of us were given the privilege to work with some of the most prominent teachers in the region (Kabby Mitchell III, Marie Chong, Wade Madsen, Eva Stone, Kitty Daniels, Hannah Wiley, etc.), as well as the New York City dance scene, most notably, the Jose Limon Dance Company's artistic director, Carla Maxwell.
But, now we are grown women with college and/or life experience under our belts; no longer simply passive dancers waiting to be selected for a piece. RDC is our opportunity to grab life by the horns and take charge of our own destiny as performing artists. Through our work with RDC, we are able to choreograph, direct, and even do some community-benefit work with our upcoming performances at schools and nursing homes this May, and our dance scholarships we are planning to offer promising students in need at Dance Fremont! We don't just want to ask the community to support "our art." We want to give back in some way and fulfill a unique need in our area.
ALL dance groups in the Seattle area have something special to offer. We want our offering to be a commitment to benefiting others, and the presentation of a wide range of dance. From entertainment to art, from hip-hop, modern dance and ballet, we want to cover the spectrum. We see dance as a medium that can be thought-provoking, challenging in a good way, and a vehicle for making us investigate and enjoy our shared human experience. But, at the end of the day, we want to leave our audience feeling good. We'd rather reserve judgement about the "best" style of dance, and instead, put all styles on a level playing field that ensure the greatest chance of accessibility. We think that you, the viewer, should be able to choose what speaks to you and what doesn't.
Thus, our choreographers include everyone from Xaviera Vandermay, a jazz and hip-hop dancer who also choreographs for dance competitions, to Cornish College of the Arts graduate, Amanda Oie, whose work has been presented at 12 Minutes Max. The only genre you won't see in our repertory are more avant garde or experimental pieces. We'd rather leave those works to the experts at On the Boards.
Basically, my message is this: Get ready to see ballerinas popping their booties. If you want a sneak peak, catch us battling it out at Velocity Dance Center at the Battle for the Dance Belt this April! Honor, glory, a performing opportunity and the chance at a case of beer?! Who wouldn't want such a prize?
by Gabrielle Nomura ///
It took three rehearsals in a dance studio, (two in my living room) and many long hours of listening to my music of choice, but finally, it's done. My piece, that is.
Titled "Paradigm Shift" this sassy jazz dance is a collaboration with recent Seattle transplants and music men, The Bad Tenants. With an innovative sound that's Beastie boys meets blues, soul and jazz (trust me, it works), I have watched these boys, dear friends of mine, grow from a small-town Bellingham band to touring recording artists starting to make a name for themselves in the Northwest.
And when I say "collaboration" I mean it. The "B-Tennies" have been involved every step of the way. I very much look forward to sharing the stage with them in August when we perform at Dance Fremont! There is nothing better for a dancer than performing to live music. And there is nothing better for young men than having cute girls in leotards parading around.
The group is made up of Good Matters (Matthew Goodwin, far left in the photo) Casey G. (Casey Gainor who is center), and DJ Idlhnds (Gabriel Ghirardini). Each of the boys raps. Additionally, C-Spot plays trombone, Good Matters plays the saxophone and DJ Idlhnds ... well, surprisingly enough, he DJ's.
I have performed with them as a "Bad Tennette" backup dancer at Nectar Lounge, toured with them as their Tour Manager for their Southeast Alaska run, (where I was responsible for them almost missing their ferry, sorry boys!) my love of their music has grown and grown. Yes, it's true. Three foul-mouthed rappers are my muses.
The piece is set to a medley of bluesy, jazzy, hip-hop tunes that DJ Idlhnds flawlessly transitions from one song to the next. Working with DJ Idlhnds, I selected a handful of their songs that I felt showcased a dynamic range, from the mellow, tender R&B refrain of "Sweet Talk" to the banger "Stay Classy," Idl took my choices and arranged them in a way that I feel, almost tells a story, or at least, possess a strong dynamic arc.
From the musical arrangement, I had the challenge of showcasing five dancers whose strengths range from beatboxing and twerking, to ballet, and classical modern dance. I knew I wanted this piece to be popish, urban and hip-hop. But I also wanted my work to allow each woman to embrace her femininity, sensuality, and confidence in the way her body likes to move. If you look closely at my moves, you will see a little bit of all these dance styles inside a package that comes out as a little Beyonce-music-video around the edges. Mostly sassy and almost show-girl-like, the piece does (intend) to leave a little food for thought in typical modern-dance fashion.
Important tidbits! Stay tuned...