A Wealth of Dance for Seattle Nov 15, 2013

by Jeremy Buben

Shortly after last night’s opening performance of Cedric Andrieux, choreographer and director Jerome Bel’s first work shown in Seattle, I had a chance to speak with Cedric Andrieux on the front steps of the theater. The solo performer of this weekend’s show bearing his own name, Cedric has led a life devoted to dance, as total commitment is what it takes to work at such a rigorous craft. As a lifelong professional dancer, Cedric has had the unique opportunity to be an integral part of modern dance history.

After the performance, as some friends and I were talking to Cedric about details in his life, the night’s audience streamed down the front stairs, all graciously thanking the dancer for his performance. It was clear that this sincere and amazingly artistic show had connected deeply with the viewers.

What most connected with me, however, was how fortunate we as dance enthusiasts in Seattle are this very weekend. Here at OtB several hundred people were watching a dancer of great renown, who has worked for companies steeped in lore, and who is an integral figure in the world of performance dance. As we watched Cedric talk about the warm-ups and the brutally and physically taxing hours of rehearsals that it takes to just be capable of creating the dance shows of legends, mere blocks away audiences were watching Crystal Pite and the dancers of PNB put on a show of spectacle, polished beyond comprehension. And there were countless other dance performances happening throughout Seattle, with performers who can easily identify with the tale of the life of a dancer that Cedric was sharing with us.

Every age level can appreciate the beauty and art of performance dance here in Seattle. There is even an opportunity to immerse young children in modern dance, as Cedric will be performing an abridged version of his life’s story on Sunday afternoon on the mainstage. I hope you can enthusiastically agree with me that it is a great time to be watching dance in Seattle!

As fellow audience member and choreographer Mark Haim told me after the show, “Jerome Bel has a talent in finding the magic in the utterly simple”, and in Cedric Andrieux’s solo performance it couldn’t be more beautiful in its complete and stripped down simplicity. As Andrieux recounted his 2 decade long career in complete earnestness, it was evident at just how incredibly driven this performer is, often putting up with grueling and physically demanding choreography from Merce Cunningham, and even struggling with a feather allergy as he wore costuming designed by Comme des Garcons. Like many artists Cedric has worked multiple jobs and gone without the security of health insurance in pursuit of his art, and although he in no way uses these as devices for sympathy in his story, they are an integral part of the tale of just how hard it is to be a dancer and an artist.

This low-tech show, with entire minutes filled with only heavy breathing and the sounds of feet falling, has moments of comedy and tragedy as well as glimpses into one artist’s determination, all the while pursuing a career in modern dance. Sometimes this career took place in a metallic unitard, which as Cedric mentions hides nothing, and other times it involved wearing his casual clothes for works that didn’t even involve dancing. Cedric has done it all, always dancing with devotion.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t watched dance performances before, or if you are an established artist working in the medium of dance, Cedric Andrieux’s performance will find something that resonates in each viewer. I for one am looking forward to the next opportunity to see Cedric perform, and, as I gathered from this Jerome Bel piece spotlighting Cedric’s talents, it will be a show not to miss, created from a life of pursuing the art of dance at its highest levels.