Trace in Loss

NW Dance Project: to wit, to woo

The premiere of Ihsan Rustem's "Le Fil Rouge" adds a dash of ebullient humor and style to the dynamic company's intense spring program

Northwest Dance Project is a lot of things, and a lot of very good things, but one thing it’s usually not is witty. This is a not-thing it has in common with many contemporary dance troupes (Portland’s BodyVox and a few independents like Linda Austin and Gregg Bielemeier are notable exceptions): wit isn’t generally a large part of the package in contemporary choreography.

So for lovers of the lightness of being, Thursday night’s premiere performance of Ihsan Rustem’s Le Fil Rouge was a surprise and a delight. It was also a highlight of the Project’s strong spring program, Louder Than Words, which repeats Friday and Saturday nights in the Newmark Theatre.

Julia Radick and Kody Jauron in the premiere of Ihsan Rustum's "Le Fil Rouge." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Julia Radick and Kody Jauron in the premiere of Ihsan Rustum’s “Le Fil Rouge.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Le Fil Rouge, or “The Red Thread,” is an evocation of the smart pop music and fizzy Hollywood dance styles of the 1950s and ’60s, a light and ebullient tip of the contemporary hat to the mating game in its many woozy variations: Like Twyla Tharp and a few others before him, Rustem’s not afraid to mine the energy and inventiveness and nostalgic attractions of popular culture. Performed by the entire company of nine dancers, the new piece cavorts through an appealing soundtrack of tunes by Yma Sumac, Doris Day, Edith Piaf, La Lupe, and others.

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