From the first few minutes of the show, I knew Clare Barron’s new play “Dance Nation” deserved its hype. In an opening scene, a group of dancers stands at attention at the center of their small studio in Liverpool, Ohio; arms straight at their sides, faces frozen in abject terror, waiting for Dance Teacher Pat to tell them to move their bodies. This is a team of 13-year-old competition dancers heading to the Star Power USA competition, vying for a chance to make it to nationals in Tampa, Florida. (Along their way are stops in Akron, Ohio, and the “Boogie Down Grand Prix”). In this scene, a dancer asks to leave briefly to use the bathroom, and flees the stage like she’s committed a crime. “Sorry,” she stammers, and then resumes her post on the dance floor.
“Dance Nation” by Clare Barron. Photograph by Joan Marcus.
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE