Atmokinesis at Seattle International Dance

Review written by Michael Upchurch. To read more, visit:

According to the website, “atmokinesis” is “the psychic ability to manipulate the flux and elements of the atmosphere.” It’s the perfect title for a piece that’s ostensibly a dance solo with live music, but that winds up blurring the lines between its solitary dancer and its three musicians. Experimental chamber trio, Kin of the Moon, provides a viola/woodwinds/electronics score that’s precisely timed but allows for plenty of improvisation. Karin Stevens is the solo dancer who arches, bends, turns, stamps her feet and occasionally crumbles in response to the malaise their edgily drawn-out sounds produce.

At moments Stevens seems a tentative creature, uncertain how to navigate this environment. At other times, she’s confident, assertive, exulting in the score or silently arguing with it. Something has to give here – and it does. Flautist Leanna Keith breaks away from the trio, lightly creeping towards Stevens, and eventually winds up with the dancer tangled in and around her legs as she continues her flute improvisations.

“Atmokinesis,” in some ways, is dance at its most abstract, hermetic and inward-looking. Yet because of strange dealings between Stevens and the musicians, it’s also accessibly dramatic.

One curious feature of the staging: For significant stretches of the piece Stevens dances at the rear of the stage, sometimes making the musicians, closer to the audience, as eye-catching as she is – especially composer-violist Heather Bentley whose wild extended techniques on her instrument are a kind of dance unto themselves.

Heather Bentley