A contemporary dance company that took off during the pandemic is planning its first show in an unusual place.
The six members of the Meander Dance Company will take to the stage at the South Whidbey State Park Amphitheater from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 3-5.
The new company started as a pilot project last spring when South End dancer and choreographer Beck Diamond posted a social media message asking if anyone would be interested in joining the creative project.
“I’ve always wanted to start a dance company and COVID has taken all of my work from me,” Diamond said.
To meander is to wander aimlessly. It’s a name that’s been chosen in part as a societal critic, as Diamond explained when people expect artists to do something for “the greater good.”
“For me, Meander is all about finding contentment and just enjoying and being where you are at and it doesn’t matter if you get better or more skilled at an activity, but that’s not necessarily the only reason. why we are doing it, ”the company founder said, adding that they saw the company as an“ anti-capitalist practice ”.
“I think in particular that people take dance for granted and don’t look at it the same way they look at, say, musicians and other artists, painters,” Diamond said. “I want people to understand that we are a professional company that is continually working on our craft.”
The company aims to offer dance performances in an accessible way. Meander’s first show in the woods will have a “pay what you can” model. If anyone has any accessibility issues about the show, Diamond said he’d like people to email [email protected].
“I don’t just want to be an elite company that you can only go to if you have $ 50 to pay to get in,” they said.
The dancers in the company come from all walks of life and skill levels, from classical trained at the Whidbey Island Dance Theater to beginner enthusiasts. Hunter Fox, one of Meander’s youngest members, was never technically trained but has been described as “a natural driver”.
“I was that person when I was younger and someone took a chance and let me be on a show. And that was it, then the next year I was choreographing, ”said Diamond. “When I see Hunter, I remember this youngster. He just brings a lot of positive energy to our rehearsals and I think he really adds to the dynamics of the group.
Diamond added that it is important for the entire community to have the opportunity to dance and perform if that is what is desired. Another goal of Meander is to eventually become a youth company, which would complement what already exists on the island for young dancers. Three children will perform as part of the dance company’s first show.
Juliana Brielle, another Meander member, said the new venture is inclusive for older generations who grew up dancing on Whidbey but now have children who might want to participate in the activity as well.
“It’s a total filling in the gap of something that was missing to be an adult and want to perform professionally,” she said.
Brielle starred as Clara in the Whidbey Island Dance Theater production “The Nutcracker” in 2009. She now has a daughter of her own who may one day also want to dance.
“It’s really exciting to be able to pull out of all the different aspects of dancing that Whidbey already has, such as with codified movement and free movement and improv contact, even part of the acro world,” Brielle said. .
The group has a GoFundMe fundraiser which can be found by searching for “Meander Dance Company”. Donations will help cover the costs of spaces the company plans to rent for future shows, such as the stage at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
But the beauty of the group is also its versatility.
“I can totally see us at the amphitheater in the woods, at WICA, on the beach, in an open field, on a basketball court,” Brielle said.
“We’re ready to meander anywhere,” Diamond joked.