Tess Wendel is sort of the brains of the Relay Dance Collective. In addition to being an amazing iPhone cinematographer, fearless leader, event planner and development-director extraordinaire, this dancer loves to create new work (especially if she can be upside-down/doing handstands). At RDC's upcoming show "Beginnings," you'll see her present a new work, a duet on herself and performer Anna Roth, in addition to dancing in Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino's "Surviving the Undertow," which she first performed as a young high school student.
"Beginnings," RDC's second-season show, is at 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12 and 13 at Theatre Puget Sound's Theatre4 space. Tickets are $15 pre-sale and $20 at the door. To purchase, click here.
Q. Tell me about your choreographic process and working with Anna Roth.
A. It has been great working with Anna. My piece, "Compartir la alegria," which means "sharing joy" in Spanish, is inspired by our friendship which was sparked by a love of dance. The music is contemporary spanish guitar by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
The duet has a fair bit of partnering in it which is not an area of dance I've had a lot of experience with and neither had she so we were both able to experiment. My choreographic process generally involves setting an outline, then piecing together the different bits. Usually, there is a fair amount of revision involved. I really like the movement to be organic for the dancers so it was really great to be able to partner with Anna and move through sections until we found something that felt right.
Q. How has RDC grown and changed since we last spoke?
A. Well we have definitely grown in size -- simply looking at the number of performers in our show (roughly 30) demonstrates that. We are still learning a lot, but we are definitely more organized than we were last year. I think we are also well positioned to continue attracting more Seattle talent and connecting with a wider audience than our first year.
Q. Why should people come see Beginnings?
A. People should come see Beginnings because it is going to be a diverse show with a great group of performers. I guarantee you won't see a mix like this anywhere else in Seattle.
Q. What are some future dance projects you'd like to explore?
A. I'd really like to do an outside, site-specific piece. However, the weather in Seattle is always so questionable this seems a little daunting. Also maybe something that involves climbing ropes ...
Q. What's going to be the biggest challenge for you in the show?
A. Not getting dizzy in my duet. I love spinning around but since surgery, turns and spins have been my biggest physical challenge.
Q. Tell me more about RDC's social benefit component and how you're going to be involved in the future with the classes?
A. We're having at least four free open classes for kids and adults this summer. I'm looking forward to doing a little bit of teaching for a couple of them. I really am looking forward to having RDC partner more long term with a couple of schools. It is really important to do multiple workshops/classes/performances with students and build a strong connection to open those doors of expression, learning and perhaps future participation.
Q. What are you most looking forward to about beginnings?
A. Although I am excited for all of the pieces, I am particularly excited to see Gabrielle Nomura's "Farewell Shikata ga nai" because I love taiko drumming and think she has a compelling story to tell.
Q. How would you like to see RDC develop in the future?
A. I really like that Relay Dance Collective is able to welcome and support a wide net of artists and this is something I hope to see continue in the future. I would like to see some more interesting collaborations with musicians and of course creating more long-term partnerships with other community groups who want to get their feet wet with regard to dancing.