All the World's a Stage
The Whole House Was, Anyway—and the Front Yard
Constellation Half-Remembered is a series of collaborative performances that began, in the words of UMAMI cofounders Aaron Swartzman and Aiko Kinoshita, with a series of "research playdates." The results vary in materials and styles of production, from 2012's SILT to last Sunday afternoon's NEST to this week's PATINA, which is the "cornerstone event" in the series.
NEST was an expertly and lovingly produced salon-style event of music, dance, food, and discussion set in a lush West Seattle garden and home. The afternoon began with clarinet performed in the front yard by Amy Denio and collaborator Beth Fleenor. Some of us were seated in the yard, and others were inside, but as people came out to hear the music, an easy back-and-forth flow between yard and house was established. After the musicians led the whole group to gather in the living room, dancers grouped together in a circle and gradually rotated en masse as they swept their arms up and around the other bodies, some changing direction and moving through the group, but never breaking from the pulsating rhythm set by Denio and Fleenor's soft, whispered sounds.
Outside, Kinoshita and dancer Shannon Stewart matched and met each other's movements, pausing over a large metal washtub and then backing away. They returned later, Kinoshita to a now-filled washtub, splashing in the water and holding her head down in a pensive, personal moment made all the more intimate by the angles through which we viewed the scene: some through a closed living-room window, some (like me) over a gate and through branches. NEST offered no defined stage—the living room, dining room, front yard, side yard, and steep carpeted stairs of the classic old house were the viewing points, so we settled in as we would for an impromptu conversation with family members. None of us had the same experience. We all saw things from different angles.
UMAMI's blog describes Constellation Half-Remembered as "exploring how accumulated memories create the many-layered complexity of who we are." Swartzman's family viewed the primary dance portion from a red picnic blanket on the front lawn, his son's laughter punctuating the silence afterward. In a crescendo illustrating the fine balance between collaboration and frustration, Stewart, Kinoshita, Swartzman, and fellow dancers Katie Arrants and Laura Prudhomme finished a piece by continually running around the yard and then crashing into one another, the final collision purposefully (hopefully) taking someone out as she passed out fresh fruit from a halved watermelon. The gourd went flying, and some blueberries landed on my sweaty lap. I ate them anyway.
Constellation Half-Remembered: PATINA, July 5–6 at 8 pm, July 7 at 4 pm, Open Flight Studio (4205 University Way); July 20 at 3 pm, Jack Block Park (2130 Harbor Ave SW); July 26–27 at 8 pm, Parallel Public Works (424 SW 153rd St, Burien); tickets and information at umamiperformance.wordpress.com.