News Column

Bound against tradition

May 10, 2013


May 10--They've danced at bus stops. They've danced in bars, hair salons and at the library. They've splashed along the reflective pools outside Museum of Glass, squeezed into loft spaces and reinvented storefronts. But this weekend, Barefoot Collective is doing something truly out of the box: dancing on a traditional stage at Theatre on the Square.

It's the group's annual "Ides of May" mixed repertory. As usual, they're inviting many types of people to join them, including professional choreographers, high school students and rock musicians.

"Every year, we've done this more traditional performance, but we've used smaller, nontraditional spaces," said Michael Hoover, a dancer, choreographer and co-director of the nomadic, group-run collective that's been presenting locally created dance in Tacoma for almost 10 years. "We decided to take a chance and do it in a bigger venue. We'll see how it goes."

The move to Theatre on the Square didn't come easily. Rather than use up their grant money, the company reached out to supporters via, a crowd-funding site similar to While the Broadway Center, which manages the theater, partnered on the project, the group still had to raise $3,000. As of this week, they've raised half of that.

But the show's going on, and, in typical Barefoot fashion, it includes a variety of local dancers and musicians in unique collaborations. One of those is a group of seven high school students from Spanaway and Gig Harbor. They responded to a call from their school's theater departments. One weekend before opening, four of them gathered with Hoover and co-director Stephanie Pederson to rehearse a short work they created themselves, inspired by quotations and based on movements learned and refined in a workshop series.

As the teens clustered for unison sections or peeled off for highly individualized leaps or slow arm unfurls, Pederson and Hoover explained the idea behind the annual workshops.

"Part of our mission statement is reaching out into the community," Hoover said. "We see this as part of that outreach."

"It's reaching out to people who wouldn't usually come to our auditions, an opportunity to learn creative movement," Pederson said. "Hopefully, we'll keep it going and get more schools involved."

Gig Harbor student Bridget Fouquette said, "My school director said it would be good for my stage presence, for owning what you do and your mental mindset, working with other people. And it has."

"What's cool is that some of the moves are so abstract; they're interesting new ways of moving for me," said Tristan Smit, also from Gig Harbor. "It gets you more confident."

Another unique collaboration is between Hoover as choreographer and Tacoma vintage rock band Girl Trouble. Hoover has created a work for five women set to a medley of six of the band's songs: "Community Creep," "There's a Waste," "The Trade," "Stalking," "Going, Going for it" and "Live with no Tomorrow."

"I've loved their music for a really long time and have been wanting to do something for years," Hoover said.

He said his piece is very "punkish, very physical," with constant athletic movement and a neat play on "stalking/stocking" at the end, when dancers bring bags of chips and candy on stage in homage to Girl Trouble's habit of handing those items out at concerts. The rehearsals and performance will be a part of a documentary celebrating the band's 30th anniversary; it is being created by Tacoma filmmaker Isaac Olson ("Quiet Shoes") and will be released in 2014.

Other music collaborations include Tacoma musician Nathaniel Dybevik playing live for choreography by April Nyquist, and work by Pederson to the recorded music of Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount, a Northwest folk-rock trio. Guest dancers include Seattle group Serendip, which performed at last year's "Ides" show, Serena River and dancers from Pacific Lutheran University performing a work by Carla Barragan of BQdanza in Tacoma.

Hoover will perform a solo he began through the Broadway Center's "Voices of the City" program, telling the story of three men in his life (father, late partner and current partner) through his own dance, voiceover, music and film.

But the big deal about the show is that for the first time in the company's history, they'll be on a traditional raised stage with a traditional backdrop, union lighting and sound, and 300 seats in the audience.

"For us, it's almost nontraditional," Hoover said. 'Ides of May' contemporary dance

Who: Barefoot Dance Collective and guests

When: 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Theater on the Square, 915 Broadway, Tacoma

Tickets: $15-$20

Information: 253-591-5894,

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568


(c)2013 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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