“New Now Wow!” wasn’t just an ear-catching title for the Northwest Dance Project’s fall show. It’s more like the inherent promise of most NWPD shows: the work will be new and you are likely to see at least one thing that will surprise and/or amaze you. It might be the work, which is regularly created on the dancers by various international contemporary choreographers, or it might be the dancers, who bring sound technical and artistic abilities to each new style they tackle. Either way, your odds finding something to admire are pretty good.
The Portland company continued building its sizable repertoire of world premieres with a three-piece program Oct. 14-15 at Lincoln Hall. The first entry was Through the Mouth of Your Eyes, created by Portuguese choreographer Pedro Dias, winner of NWDP’s 2011 Pretty Creatives choreographic competition residency. Dias turned in a muscular modern work for seven dancers. Set to an electrified score bristling with static, the dancers powered through lighting designer Jeff Forbes’s patterns of light and shadow, which highlighted aspects of the work’s physicality.
Fellow European Didy Veldman, a Dutch choreographer, contributed her second-ever U.S. creation. This is no small thing; Veldman’s somewhat intimidating resume also includes work with Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek and other major dancemakers. Her piece for five dancers, Kind of a Sort, was arguably the most memorable of the evening’s offerings, a quirky combination of movement and vocals, set to a singsong-y musical collage from Meredith Monk and Max Richter. Sliding, teetering and falling gave way to repeated gestural sequences, whispering, laughing and, ultimately, an amusing slow-motion disco sequence for the ensemble.
Canada’s Noam Gagnon, co-founder of The Holy Body Tattoo, closed out the night with sKin, which set the entire company against a fascinating video backdrop of an animated hand sketching patterns on paper. There was an element of mysticism in this piece; the dancers shook their heads and hissed, arched their backs, spun and dropped to the floor; momentum slowly built from deliberate to chaotic.
The company’s mission to work with new choreographers has helped build versatile dancers and repertoire. It showed in this program, and the rest of the world is starting to take notice: On Nov. 2, voting will close for the Global Dance Contest 2011, which awards a cash prize and an expenses-paid trip to London to perform onstage at the international dance showcase Sadler’s Wells Sampled in January. NWDP is one of 10 companies in the running with its performance of Ihsan Rustem’s State Of Matter. NWDP can hold its own on a bigger stage, and Sadler’s certainly qualifies. To vote, go to globaldancecontest.com.