Relay Dance Collective Season 6 Kickoff Featuring choreography by Paula J Peters, Ella Mahler, Gabrielle Gainor/Austin Sexton, Amber Jackson, and Hailey Burt.
Yaw Theater 6520 5th Ave S Seattle, WA 98108 Cost: Online $15; Door $20
By Gabrielle Gainor In honor of our Season 6 Kickoff, Relay Dance Collective has commissioned a new work by one of our favorite people: Paula J Peters! In addition to being one of our dance teachers growing up, Paula has taught at the university level all across the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in New York State where she works as an Associate Professor of Dance at SUNY Fredonia.Her choreography has been presented by Men In Dance, Cornish Dance Theater, Fremont DanceWorks, Cornish Preparatory Dance Company, and Relay Dance Collective (in our first season!).
In addition to being a former professional dancer and a former member of Spectrum Dance Theater, Paula is also a dance scholar immersed in the research and history of jazz dance. She and long-time collaborator Rhonda Cinotto previously created Contemporary Jazz Dance Project (of which, several Relay dancers had the honor of participating in as students and performers in 2013).
Working with Paula during her brief trip back to Seattle from New York was such a treat for the dancers in Relay. As a viewer of the piece, this new work Overload ranks among my favorite Paula works I've seen. It's clearly created with her strong voice as an athletic jazz dancer, but infused with the individual strengths of the dancers. It feels fresh; like modern dance but with a jazz sensibility. I know that when you come to our show in September, you will love it!
You just created a new work for Relay titled Overload. Tell me more! Overload is a highly athletic, intense work full of sharp, direct movements peppered with moments of exhausted rest. My inspiration for the work was watching the body language of the students at my university reveal the stresses of being over-committed.
Where do you get your inspiration as a choreographer in general? Watching people and seeing the fullness of the human experience is where I find most of my choreographic inspiration. I love people and how diverse their stories are, and I want to bring that to the stage through my choreography.
What was it like working with Relay Dance Collective? Working with the Relay dancers was a fun, energizing experience. They were focused, eager to bring their voices to the process, and pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones to achieve the intention of the work.
Has your time teaching in New York influenced your creative process in any way? Leaving the Seattle dance community to teach at State University of New York at Fredonia has changed my relationship to what I believe is jazz-dance movement. I’m now more interested in how to teach and choreograph the aesthetic and performance qualities of jazz dance rather limit myself to the confines of jazz dance “steps.” It’s been a freeing experience to look at the art form of jazz dance from a new perspective.
What makes your work as a choreographer unique as far as Seattle dance goes? I feel my work is unique in the Seattle dance scene because of its roots in jazz dance sensibilities. The movement qualities of jazz dance that I am interested in are sharp, direct, and angular with a sense of sizzle in the center. My work tends to stay away from circular movements and shape-flow, which is something that I feel sets it apart in this region.
"It was such a fun process to see how things unfolded so quickly from one phrase. Paula was so open to ideas and making the movement work for your body and personality. I'm so excited to see it costumed and on stage in September!" - RDC dancer Ian Howe