Dance troupe to meander ‘in the woods’

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A contemporary dance company that has taken off during the pandemic is planning its first show in an unusual location.

The six members of the Meander Dance Company will take to the stage at the Amphitheater at South Whidbey State Park from 6-7 p.m. September 3-5.

The new company began as a pilot project last spring when South End dancer and choreographer Beck Diamond posted a message on social media asking if anyone would be interested in joining the creative project.

“I always wanted to start a dance company and COVID took all my work away from me,” Diamond said.

To stroll is to wander aimlessly. It’s a name that was chosen partly as a societal critique, as Diamond explained when people expect artists to do something for “the greater good.”

“For me, Meander is about finding contentment and just enjoying and being where you are and it doesn’t matter if you improve or become more skilled in an activity, but that’s not necessarily the only reason for which we do,” the company founder said, adding that he views the business as an “anti-capitalist praxis.”

“I especially think people take dance for granted and they don’t see 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 continuously works 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 want to be just an elitist business that you can only go to if you have $50 to pay to get in,” they said.

The company’s dancers come from all backgrounds and skill levels, from classically trained at Whidbey Island Dance Theater to passionate beginners. Hunter Fox, one of Meander’s youngest members, never received any technical training, but was described as “a natural mover”.

“I was that person when I was younger and someone took a chance and let me do a show. And that was it, and then the next year I was choreographing,” Diamond said. “When I see Hunter, I remember that kid. He just brings a lot of positive energy to our rehearsals and I think he really adds to the dynamic of the band.

Diamond added that it’s important that the whole community has the opportunity to dance and perform if that’s what they want. 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 company is inclusive of people from older generations who grew up dancing to Whidbey but now have kids who might also want to join in the activity.

“It’s a total filling in of the gap of something that was missing to be an adult and want to perform professionally,” she said.

Brielle starred as Clara in Whidbey Island Dance Theater’s 2009 production of “The Nutcracker.” She now has a daughter of her own who might one day also want to dance.

“It’s really exciting to be able to take from all the different aspects of dance that Whidbey already has, like with codified movement and free movement and improvised contact, even some 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 defray 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 being 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 walk anywhere,” Diamond joked.



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