Scene: Khambatta Dance Company comes to Central

BY MARIA HARRStaff Reporter

Seattle-based Khambatta Dance Company will perform two works, “Vice and Virtue” and “Truth and Betrayal,” and hold a dance workshop during their visit to Central.

The company uses modern and contemporary dance that is, according to Artistic Director Cyrus Khambatta, “highly athletic and very physical.”

Therese Young, the dance program director, at Central, said this was one of the reasons she asked the company to come and perform, as part of a collaboration between the dance and theatre programs.

“Modern dance is my favorite,” Young said. “It’s so expressive; you can communicate your thoughts and feelings.”

Khambatta expressed similar thoughts on the matter, saying he hopes the audience will get a familiarity with other people through his work and any art they encounter.

“We don’t necessarily connect in the same way as we did before social media,” Khambatta said, hoping the crowd can relate to what they’re seeing.

The dance company’s website calls the dancer’s style “both visually beautiful and physically demanding,” which Young thought was a great blend of concepts.

The dance company is currently touring with a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation as part of the Pacific Northwest Program, which funds arts, culture, libraries and education in the Pacific Northwest.

With its focus on the Pacific Northwest, the dance company reached out to Central and Young, recognizing that they were a “beautiful modern dance company,” and asked them to come.

The dance company will be performing two of Khambatta’s most recent pieces- the first two in a sequence of pieces that will be created and performed once a year over the course of ten years.

Khambatta says his works are emotional, dramatic and somewhat abstract, dealing with things that we as humans struggle with.

In the cases of “Vice and Virtue” and “Truth and Betrayal,” each piece focuses on the concept within their titles.

One of the five dancers in the company is Ellen Cooper, a frequenter of the dance studio at Central. Cooper, an Olympia native, never formally attended Central but would often visit a friend in the dance program and participate in dance classes.

“It’s really fun to go somewhere where I know people,” Cooper said, mentioning she’s looking forward to doing the dance workshop and saying hello to Young. “We’re really excited to come.”

Cooper explains “Vice and Virtue” as having themes of temptation and trying to convince oneself that taking what  one wants is OK and also that those who think themselves to be virtuous can still hurt others through their actions. Cooper has a duet where a man rejects her character with no care at all to her feelings.

In “Truth and Betrayal,” Cooper’s character is constantly testing people to see if anyone is worthy of her trust.

“There’s something very beautiful about watching a non-verbal representation of our inner states,” Khambatta said, “In watching the wave of the dancer’s sequence and movement wash over you.”

While it’s mandatory for members of Central’s dance company, Orchesis, to attend the performance, it’s not mandatory for other students in the dance program.

“From a dancer’s perspective, it’s such an opportunity; it doesn’t have to be mandatory,” Young said. “They’re all so excited.”

Young thinks students in other programs could benefit from watching as well. Theatre students will be drawn in because of the lighting, set design and costumes. She expects athletes to be drawn to watch too because of the athleticism displayed in the show.

“There are so many things in a show like this that is good for students,” Young said.