by Laura Kussman
Island Inspiration All-Stars: the name alone is intentional.
Matched with a sold-out reputation and an arsenal of killer movement styles and dancers, the spring dance concert Physical Calligraphy arrives as a blooming new narrative from the team behind orcas.dance.com.
Produced by Orcas Center with choreography by Anthony the Dancer, Physical Calligraphy runs on Orcas Center’s main stage for two nights – Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 with discounts for Orcas Center members, minors and seniors.
With nine days until showtime, sitting in on a rehearsal is an animated experience. Set and song lists are etched on a whiteboard on the wall, costumes are introduced and played with, and the live musicians who will be peppered performers throughout the show arrive to practice timing. One such performer is eight-string guitarist Jeffry Steel, who recalls seeing an Island Inspiration All-Stars show as a visitor to Orcas Island.
“I’ve seen Anthony’s work and quickly became a fan,” Steel said. “I approached both Anthony and Tiffany as a visitor. Once I started working full time on Orcas, then it became time to dream. I gave Anthony around 15-20 songs and asked if he would like to choreograph my work.”
Physical Calligraphy will feature three of Steel’s songs, including one titled Poco Allegretto with dancer Hailey Averna, who, after an 11-run showing of “Mamma Mia!,” intimately allows movement to now be her prose. Another Steel song, Allegro Moderato, will feature a solo by Aristotle Luna, proving to be a deft and divine movement showcase.
Speaking with Steel, it’s easy to recall the enchantment of “The Roasted Nut,” the Island Inspiration All-Stars 2018 holiday production that boasted an interactive, two-story set created by Dane Steck, and the legion of audience members who felt so moved by the work, they sought to be a part of it.
“This is a family,” Anthony says. “It’s all love in the end.”
Anthony explains this showcase will be powerful and eclectic, with dancers transitioning seamlessly from smooth to percussive movements in both solo and unison dancing, rewriting floor transitions and formations with fervor.
He has asked Sanjaya Malakar to sing two songs during the show, noting these live musicians “add another beautiful layer to what we’ve already established.”
Rehearsal carries on, and at the completion of Luna’s solo, Steel strums his final note.
“I think he’s going to upstage me,” Steel says.
Anthony laughs back, “That’s up to you!”
Tickets and more information available at www.orcascenter.org/events.