Dancer debuts original duet

Katie Kowalski, arts@ptleader.com
Posted 3/28/17

Moved by the idea of creating something new, Phina Pipia set out to choreograph an original dance piece last fall. The spark of inspiration resulted in a “whirlwind of action” she’s set to …

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Dancer debuts original duet

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Moved by the idea of creating something new, Phina Pipia set out to choreograph an original dance piece last fall. The spark of inspiration resulted in a “whirlwind of action” she’s set to perform with fellow dancer and friend Rachel Campanoli on Saturday.

The duo debuts at 7:30 p.m., April 1 in the parish hall behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1020 Jefferson St., in uptown Port Townsend. Admission is by donation.

“It’s been years since I choreographed anything,” said Pipia, who danced professionally in New York City after attending the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. She recently started taking classes again in Port Townsend with Ling-Hui O’Connor, in whose studio she and Campanoli had grown up.

In the duet, she and Campanoli dance in unison and in counterpoint, as soloists and in a pair, complementing each other, Pipia said.

“Rachel has this really fluid, lyrical way of moving, and it’s beautiful.

“When I’m dancing, I have a controlled, very out-of-the-box, very wild, sparkly kind of moving,” Pipia said.

“I tried to use her dancing style to stretch me, and to use my natural style to challenge her.”

HAMMERED DULCIMER

Pipia said her approach to the choreography was unconventional in that she chose the music after she’d finished the dance duet, rather than before.

“I basically started listening to everything,” she said. She was looking for something that was dreamy and understated, but would add a sense of urgency to the dance, which she feels was about travel, and how people meet each other and share stories, and then depart.

Someone suggested hammered dulcimer music, which she perused, discovering a haunting score by film composer Cliff Martinez and a piece by avant-garde composer John Cage. The music gave the dance its story and place, and solidified the dance’s theme, Pipia said.

The dance is set in a moonlit train station and includes a few props to enhance the choreography: a collection of suitcases and trunks, and in a few surprising moments of the piece, a tuba.

“It’s a haunting story of these people who are on some sort of journey – and the audience gets to see this snapshot of the adventure,” said Pipia, who’s excited to enchant and inspire audiences of all ages.

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