[For a short video on their first solo choreographing experiences, go to:
PNB’s Next Step-Andrew Bartee and Margaret Mullin – YouTube
At this point Andrew’s choreographic career took off, though he continues to dance with PNB, Whim W’Him, and occasionally other companies. Olivier Wevers, artistic director of Whim W’Him asked him to do something for last June’s Seattle International Dance Festival. For that, using his PNB friends Ezra Thompson and Sarah Pasch, Andrew choreographed a trio which was the genesis of his piece—now entitled This is real.—that will debut at Whim W’Him’s May show. [Tickets are now available at: www.BrownPaperTickets.com]
In the fall of 2012, an Andrew duet by and for Kate Wallich and himself at the Velocity season kickoff was well reviewed: “Bartee and Wallich premiered Crash Case, an ultra-deconstructed version of the traditional ballet duet where they seemed to braid their bodies together in partnering sequences and emit a subtle aggression in solo sections. They paused with one fist raised before shuffling sideways and stretching with marvelous elasticity to Lena Simon’s shimmery soundscape. The piece showed a growing maturity in Bartee’s choreography…”
Around the same time, Andrew’s arms that work premiered at Seattle’s McCaw Hall as part of a PNB regular rep program that also included works by Mark Morris, fellow company member Kiyon Gaines, and his old friend and co-creator, Maggie Mullin.
This March, arms that work was danced again by Patricia Barker‘s Grand Rapids Ballet Company. One review called the piece “as astounding today as Arpino’s and Balanchine’s pieces were in their day.”
In February of this year, emotions., yet another piece, a solo this time, was choreographed by Andrew—as a mediation on “the varied relationships with one’s self”—and danced by Kate Wallich for Bellevue’s contemporary dance showcase, Chop Shop: Bodies of Work.
And now This is real. Andrew’s first work for Whim W’Him, it investigates awkwardness in relationships, social unease. Evolving over time from a 5-minute sketch which he says “I hated,” it has tripled in length, becoming a more subtle and abstract exploration of “situations between friends that make you a little uncomfortable, that you didn’t see coming.” Seattle composer Lena Simon is writing original music for the piece.
When he enters the studio, Andrew doesn’t have steps worked out, all ready to go. Far from it. They come to him in the course of working. The other day, for example, while warming up before rehearsal, a little sequence of steps involving a lot of elbows & knees occurred to him and became part of what was set on the dancers in the next few hours.
Last week, he was developing vocabulary for the three dancers (Mia Monteabaro, Tory Peil and Sergey Kheylik). Now, he says “It’s nice to have dance material, to play with the story.” When I asked him if his own long, flexible body and the way it moves influences his choreography, he said, “Of course, but it’s always different with each dancer. Each initiates movement from somewhere different. The differences add depth and meaning.”
Up soon: Posts on new Whim W’Him dancers Sergey Kheylik & Jesse Sani; choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa & L’Effleuré (to be danced by Andrew);
plus composers Brian Lawlor (for Olivier’s new work) & Lena Simon.