Pirouetting, not fretting, their hour upon the stage

Forrest Stieber and Katie Pitchford dance in “Teardrop” by Lorien MacTavish at the Peninsula Dance Theatre’s Choreography Showcase Feb. 25 and 25 at Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center. - Photo by Marcie Miller
Forrest Stieber and Katie Pitchford dance in “Teardrop” by Lorien MacTavish at the Peninsula Dance Theatre’s Choreography Showcase Feb. 25 and 25 at Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center.
— image credit: Photo by Marcie Miller

From the outside, the Bremerton Dance Center building on the corner of Sixth and Chester in Bremerton looks quiet and unassuming. Inside, it’s another story. On any given night it’s abuzz with dancers warming up and practicing their moves; an exercise in organized chaos as the members of the Peninsula Dance Theatre prepare for the big show.

Tonight and Sunday the dancers perform in the company’s annual Choreography Showcase. Aside from the annual “Nutcracker” ballet, it’s their biggest show of the year.

The event features dozens of dancers performing original works of ballet, modern and jazz dance created and directed by eight choreographers.

Choreographers from the Bremerton Dance Center are Mallory Morrison, Deborah Birrane, Dianna George, Tammy Wojak, Lorien MacTavish and the school’s artistic director Lawan Morrison. Guest choreographers are Deanna Carter and Lara Littlefield.

Carter, originally from Seattle, taught at the Bremerton Dance Center before going on to a professional career.

Her new piece for the Peninsula Dance Theatre Showcase incorporates elements of Cuban and Latin music and dance.

This will be Carter’s 13th dance piece choreographed specifically for the Peninsula Dance Theatre group.

“Some members are accomplished enough to have chosen to dance professionally had they wished to,” she has said of the Bremerton dance company.

Littlefield, from Seattle, began her dancing career in Kitsap County. She has danced with Irene’s School of Dance in Silverdale, Michiko in Bremerton and with the Peninsula Dance Theatre. She has also studied with the Pacific Northwest Ballet and at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

Littlefield said the goal of her choreography is to “have the audience experience dance as relevant.”

“I create work to bring new audiences to dance,” she said.

She currently dances at Spectrum Dance in Seattle, and serves on that dance company’s board.

The choreographer on the program with the most experience is the Peninsula Dance Theatre’s own artistic director.

Lawan Morrison has held that position for 32 years and has taught dance for 46 years. She is also a guest teacher at Olympic College in Bremerton, and in 2002 was a recipient of the YWCA’s Women of Achievement Award.

She is an active member of the West Sound Arts Council and has worked to promote the arts in Kitsap County for many years.

At a recent rehearsal, Morrison said the upcoming showcase includes “emerging pieces,” by young choreographers, which will be judged by a professional dance adjudicator from New York.

If the pieces are judged to be good enough, one or more could be chosen to be performed at the Regional Dance America/Pacific dance conference in May, which Morrison is hosting in Bremerton this May. She has twice served as president of the organization.

That event will see venues all over Bremerton, from the Kitsap Conference Center to the high school’s Performing Arts Center, brimming with more than 350 dancers and their support crews.

In the meantime, there’s that showcase performance to get ready for.

Mallory Morrison, granddaughter of Lawan Morrison, has choreographed a modern dance number called “Forlata Mig,” which is Swedish for “Forgive Me.” Recorded music for the piece is Radiohead’s “Kid A.”

Instructor Lorien MacTavish is directing her dancers in a modern dance piece called “Teardrop,” with music by Massive Action. In the conceptual piece the dancers employ a large white exercise ball as a teardrop, passing it around the group to symbolize different emotions.

“I wanted to capture different people’s reactions to teardrops,” MacTavish said. Those emotions, expressed in dance, range from love to anger, fear and hate.

The showcase promises a wide range of dance styles, with nary a nutcracker in sight.

The Peninsula Dance Theatre’s Annual Choreography Showcase takes place 8 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday, at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center.

Festival seating tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors and students, $10 for 12 and under, available at the Bremerton Dance Center, corner of Sixth and Chester; at the Kitsap Mall information booth and the Bremerton and Port Orchard chambers of commerce.

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