BY DANA OLAND
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
On the whole, Saturday night’s Idaho Dance Theatre performance was strong and balanced, with two pieces by its very different co-artistic directors — Marla Hansen and Carl Rowe — to open and close the evening, and two debuts by guest choreographers in the middle.
The surprise at Boise State’s Special Events Center was a short, sweet and intense piece by guest artist Natasha Jansen, a winner of the Spotlight Dance Cup choreography competition.
I’m not a fan of prop pieces, usually, but the dancers used a simple elastic cord that created a line on stage in a variety of intriguing ways — hanging on it as if on a clothesline, sliding along as if on a zip line, bounding and rebounding against it.
It made a nice complement to guest choreographer Jessica Miller Tomlinson’s “Architecture: Splintered and Cracked,” a piece brought to the company through its New Visions Choreography Competition.
Tomlinson’s work looked great and showcased the power and athleticism of the dancers.
Hansen’s “Now We Are Here: Diaries of a Treasured Land” opened the program with a loving tribute to Idaho to coincide with the Boise 150 sesquicentennial celebration. Hansen received several grants for the collaboration with composer Eric Sandmeyer, soprano Laura Rushing-Raynes and Rowe.
Pianist Barton Moreau, cellist Brian Hodges and saxophonist Rodney Zuroeveste beautifully played Sandmeyer’s minimalist and jazz-tinged suite on stage. The music provided a lovely vehicle for Hansen’s choreography, performed against a projection of Rowe’s paintings of the Idaho landscape.
Soprano Laura Rushing-Raynes provided a vocal of poetry about Idaho that felt too heavy for the piece. And though well sung, at times the libretto forced Hansen into more literal movement choices to reflect the words.
The piece was at its best when the music and movement flowed together seamlessly.
The closer was Rowe’s “The Story of Humanity,” created in collaboration with film composer Robin Zimmermann. They worked in a reverse process in which Rowe and the dancers created the movement and story first, then Zimmermann scored it from a video.
Rowe’s narrative about how humans created civilization was a nice bookend to Hansen’s opener that reflected ideas of how pioneers created community in the West — though Rowe’s was much funnier.
The dancers had obvious fun creating characters to represent aspects of the modern human community.
Zimmermann’s score — a mix of instrumentation and bird and other animal sounds — added a lovely dimension to the piece, though Rowe’s unleashed choreography provided few opportunities for moments of simplicity.
The dancers proved themselves a talented and dynamic group. Standouts — as always — were Caitlin Stanley (anytime she’s on stage), Alia Kelley (especially in “Lifeline”), the elegant Sayoko Knode, Kaelen O’Shea and Gonzalo Valdez, especially in a powerful duet with Knode in “Architecture,” and a glittering, hysterical solo in “Humanity.”
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland