Go/Long by Gender Tender.
  • Tim Summers
  • "Go/Long" by Gender Tender.

I'm having a hard time time finding the energy to write about Velocity Dance Center's Next Fest NW, this year titled "TOUCH," just a few hours after the show. The six-piece program is fast, fascinating, jarringly intimate, and exhausting—like a blurry one-night stand of hard, drunk sex that leaves room for little more than a glass of water and a heavy, welcome sleep.

Nathan Blackwell
  • Tim Summers
  • Nathan Blackwell
The choreography, music, mood, and level of skill was vastly different for each piece. In Go/Long, Will Courtney and Syniva Whitney (performing under the name GENDER TENDER), dressed in basketball hoop skirts and letterman jackets, held opposite ends of a jockstrap and recited orders from an espresso stand. Nathan Blackwell's #selfie featured stony-faced hipsters in red lipstick and black skinny jeans who at times flung their arms and wiggled their hips at breakneck tempos—like the silhouetted dancer in the old iPod commercials—among hanging panels of sheer white curtains, finishing with a simulated self-drowning in a silver bucket of water. Dylan Ward's Velocity debut piece Melody Nelson riffed on the theme of Serge Gainsbourg's tragic teenage love story with 17 "free dancing" (and Chinese takeout-eating) dancers in street clothes. The legs of Melanie Verna, wearing a polka-dot dress, carried much of the piece. Hopefully, Velocity utilizes more of the Seattle newcomer's talent in the future.

Matt Drews and Coulliette
  • Tim Summers
  • Matt Drews and Coulliette

In || bardo ||, Matt Drews danced a ghostly homage to his own mortality entirely within a circular, see-through curtain hung from the ceiling. Each searching, serpentine movement began with a dip of his head as he gazed at his own images being projected onto the curtain by visual artist Coulliette. The pastel-painted bodies of the dancers in Alana Rogers's SIGHT slid around a grid-marked floor, the dancers' eyes blindfolded as they depended on the feel of the grid and each other's bodies to gauge location.

Dylan Ward
  • Tim Summers
  • Dylan Ward
But it was Coleman Pester's 30 unsure steps to my seat that threw the audience into unknown territory. We sat in a circle of chairs around the studio, all of us blindfolded with only sound, smell, and proximity to the dancers to clue us in to what the fuck was happening mere inches from our knees. The woman next to me suddenly stood up and began to dance (I think) and I tried to pick out her breath among the huffs, puffs, and sighs of the dancers as they flung themselves about the studio floor (I think). This was dance as I've never experienced it before, smelling the shampoo of the woman next to me as she plopped back down in her seat, feeling the heat emanating off her heaving body. Dance is this visceral, this sensual, this mysterious—we just rarely get to experience it that way. It's pretty fucking hot.

Sight by Alana Rogers
  • Tim Summers
  • "Sight" by Alana Rogers.