by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 15 September 2016
Annually, Relay Dance Collective (RDC) produces formal performances, usually staged at Velocity Dance Center. Yet for this special celebration of its fifth year, highlighting the diverse voices of the company, RDC has chosen to return to the school where many of RDCs founders studied.
The more intimate setting of Dance Fremont will allow the young artists selected for ‘Showcase’ freedom to take risks, experiment and collaborate in new ways. “Showcase is a vital partner to our ‘mainstage’ show,” explained Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, an RDC co-founder, “Relay fulfills a niche in Seattle’s dance community where artists not only get to perform, but receive opportunities to become more audacious dancers and creators.”
With ‘Showcase’, those unfamiliar with the work of RDC can enjoy a bite-sized look at what fresh, young talents can do. This isn’t dry, scripted and inaccessible ballet, but a company alive with ideas and inspiration, original choreography and quality dance. RDC gathers together artists that share a commitment to collaboration and want to “listen to all the voices,” as Gainor observed.
The four young dancers who started RDC share the duties and responsibilities of the company. Gainor, Jasmine Morgan, Austin Sexton and Tess Wendel collaborate on running the non-profit organization. “We like to work collectively,” Gainor explained, “We don’t consider ourselves top down. There is a core of decision makers. No one is really the boss.”
“Having multiple skills is important,” Gainor explained. “I’m not a teacher. Austin and Jasmine do that; putting dancers through their paces.” Wendel brings experience in non-profits, while Gainor provides a lot of the promotion and communication skills – and keeping in touch with the growing community of RDC fans.
‘A Professional Troupe’
This commitment to collaboration extends far beyond the organizational model of RDC. “We are very inclusive and community oriented,” Gainor explained about casting and producing. “We cast only excellent dancers,” she acknowledged, “We consider ourselves a professional troupe.” Yet, for mainstage shows RDC have cast diverse, and talented, dancers that represent a range of ages, races, genders and body types. Gainor explained that, “for us, it’s about not only being talented but what kind of attitude you bring.”
“It’s really important to us,” Gainor said about opening RDC to all kinds of dancers and choreographers, and working together. “We don’t want people that just show up and dance,” Gainor explained, “we want those who want to contribute as well.”
For instance, Gainor attended Western University. “I was a very trained dancer, but that didn’t mean I was best,” she demurred. “Some of the most fearless dancers were not as trained. The qualities that make a good dancer, it’s not just about training.” Welcoming a diverse pool of talented dancers, Gainor explained, allows choreographers, including her, a chance to work in different dance styles and introduce new ideas.
‘Something for Everyone’
An openness to new ideas and community has created a reputation at RDC for high-quality, enjoyable performances. “We want to bring people to dance,” Gainor acknowledged, “I prefer to go to shows that have a variety,” of dancers, music, choreography, and styles, “with something for everyone.”
For ‘Showcase’, RDC has enlisted the talents of its founders and friends. For the mainstage RDC show next spring, they held open casting in late August. The founders and choreographers looked for the most talented dancers, but they’ve decided to look for something more. “Last year, we ran into scheduling problems,” Gainor explained. Like the four RDC founders, many dancers have day jobs, teaching duties, family responsibilities, and/or rehearsals for other shows. For this year, the choreographers will select the dates of their rehearsals, and the dancers will need to be available to be cast.
“At the end of the day, we really want to create a professional performance,” acknowledged Gainor, “we make sure it’s really well-rehearsed.” Rehearsals, with all the dancers present and able, is a significant part of dance. Dancers have to work together to create the most beautiful, evocative, and/or inspirational movements, together. “That’s one of the things that makes dance thrilling,” Gainor observed, “that trust,” shown when an ensemble can move and dance as a team.
Support Upcoming Artists
‘Showcase’ will bring together familiar RDC dancers, performing original, creative choreography, with few costumes, and less lighting, but more experimentation and inspiration. “It is technically a fundraiser,” Gainor explained, “but we’re shifting our focus. It’s important to give back. As we’ve gotten robust, we’re more focused on our community and fostering and nurturing upcoming artists.”
‘Showcase’ gives new audiences a chance to see this company, and new artists a chance to shine. “We want people that are excited to be making dance,” Gainor observed about RDC in general, and ‘Showcase’ in particular, “We want to support those people.”
“We’re not trying to be avant-garde,” Gainor explained. RDC creates high-caliber, professional dance through collaboration and showing respect for talent.
Tickets can now be purchased, through Brown Paper Tickets, for either a matinee (2:30p) or evening (6:30p) performance of ‘Showcase’ on September 25th at Dance Fremont. Both performances will be followed by a reception, of hors d’oeuvres and drink options, along with a chance to talk with RDC artists, including the founders.
Don’t miss a chance to see what RDC has brought to dance, and to Fremont this fall!
- SOAP Fest: A Labor Of Love Now In Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 28, 2014
- When You Know You Can Dance
- by Kirby Lindsay, January 8, 2010
- ‘Steadfast’ Young Dancers Provide Holiday Entertainment
- by Kirby Lindsay, December 5, 2011
©2016 Kirby Laney. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.