Portland’s BodyVox dances outside the box Portland’s BodyVox is serious about dance, but not all of its dances are serious.
“In some circles, we’ve been called ‘those really funny dancers,’” said Jamey Hampton, the co-founder of the company, performing Thursday in Olympia. “Probably 80 percent of our show isn’t funny, but because there’s a little bit of it that is, people focus on that.
“That’s fine with me because that’s where our heart is.” He paused. “Our heart is in being able to have no boundaries when it comes to dance.”
Hampton and co-founder Ashley Roland break plenty of rules in BodyVox’s modern dance. For one thing, they don’t just direct the company and choreograph the dances – they also dance. And this is highly physical, athletic dance, not surprising given that Hampton danced with Pilobolus and both performed with Momix.
Perhaps the most surprising departure from the norm is that BodyVox combines live dance with filmed dance, taking dance literally outside the box.
“It takes the audience outside the theater,” Hampton said. “The audience is taken out into the world, then they come back into the theater.”
One of the films in “Reverie” is a romantic duet between Hampton and a 23-ton backhoe.
People respond differently to filmed dance than to live performance, he said.
“We performed in Japan and we found that when we did funny things on stage, people wouldn’t laugh, but when we did funny things on film they laughed hysterically,” he said.
“Reverie,” the program the company will dance at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, has become its signature.
“This piece has endured,” Hampton said of the dance, which premiered in 2001. “We’ve been performing the piece all over the world several times a year. It’s our staple. When we go to a place we haven’t been before, or not for a very long time, we take this work.”
The company did perform once in Olympia, 13 years ago – long enough that Hampton doesn’t recall where the performance took place.
“For us, the word reverie means to be within beauty, and we’ve built this show to embody that,” he said. “At the time that we were building the show, 9/11 happened. We felt rather helpless and powerless, as everybody did, but we realized that the one tool we had was the ability to create something that was beautiful, rather than more anger or more pain.”
That’s why the program is by turns comic, romantic, dramatic and, yes, serious. The dance called “Reverie” has the feel of an Impressionist painting, with male dancers dressed as bamboo shoots and women as lilies.
When the company made its New York City debut in 2004 with “Reverie,” New York Times reviewer Jennifer Dunning noted its humor and imagination, saying BodyVox “approaches dance with a breezy freshness and humor that is all its own.”
What: The Portland-based modern dance company comes to Olympia with “Reverie,” a varied program of dance on the theme of beauty.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
Tickets: $34-$49 for adults; $31-$44 for students, seniors and military; $17-$24.50 for youths
More information: 360-753-8586 or washingtoncenter.org