‘12 Minutes Max’ showcases short works

“12 Minutes Max” is Bellingham’s curated performing arts showcase.

Now in its third year, “12 Minutes Max” provides opportunities for creators and performers to present their art. Works are selected by audition by two local artists— this year it’s Lizanne Schader and Mary Jean Van Almen — in the genres of dance, music, theater, performance art and short film.

One rule: The pieces must be 12 minutes or less.

The showcase has taken place in Seattle for about 36 years, and it’s now on hiatus there. Bellingham’s production is coordinated by Bellingham dancers Mandy Pidgeon and Matt Christman, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13-14, at Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Fairhaven.

All of the participants in this year’s show have busy lives.

Sophia Kongshaug, 16 and a junior at Bellingham High School, became involved in “12 Minutes Max” last year when her ballet teacher choreographed a piece for her and two other dancers and they ended up being accepted and performing it.

Kongshaug dances ballet and contemporary five times a week at Northwest Ballet Theater and plays violin in Bellingham High’s chamber orchestra.

This year, she decided to choreograph her own performance, and it’s quite different, she says.

“Instead of having a basis in ballet, my piece is solely contemporary work, involving more dancers as well as more intricate partnering work,” she says. “This is my first piece that I’ve successfully put together and I hope that this is the first step to continuing my journey as a choreographer and artist.”

“The major restriction was the time for rehearsal. (I) and all of my dancers are high school students who, along with school, dance four or five times a week,” she says. “We had to coordinate an hour that would work with all of us every week, and even then people would often times not be able to make it.

“The greatest joy was finally seeing it all put together, and the effort and dedication that my friends put into the piece and having all of our hard work pay off when we got accepted.”

Juliette Machado, 23, is presenting two dance films at the show and is dancing with Bellingham Repertory Dance. It’s her first time performing in a “12 Minutes Max.” She currently performs with Bellingham Repertory Dance, runs her own independent media business, runs Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth’s after-school arts enrichment program, and is a substitute teacher at a local dance studio.

Bailey Kager, who is 11 and a fifth-grader at Columbia Elementary, decided after seeing the performance last year that she wanted to try dancing in this year’s show for the first time, although she has performed at Mount Baker Theatre, McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon and at other local venues.

After the show, she approached Bellingham dancer and choreographer Miye Bishop and asked if she would choreograph a dance for her, and has been working with Bishop all year.

Kager currently dance at Opus Performing Arts Studio, studying ballet, modern, jazz and hip-hop. She also studies piano and drumming.

Nolan McNally, 25, submitted a short documentary film last year for “12 Minutes Max,” and although the film he submitted this year was created under quite different circumstances, he’s a professional filmmaker.

“From as early as I remember I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “Film is my favorite way to communicate. I feel I can clearly articulate abstract or unique concepts in a comprehensive and entertaining way.”

For this year’s piece, “Bicycle Safari,” he uses music from a band in Bow-Edison, The Daffodils.

Susan Haines became involved with “12 Minutes Max” with the first one, with a comedic dance about online dating.

“It was an exciting opportunity to collaborate on a shared performance with other local artists,” she says.

She teaches dance and Pilates at Western Washington University and at Opus Performing Arts Center. This year, she’s presenting a more visually designed piece that showcases the physicality of the dancers, she says.

Rachael Maddalena, 40, has performed in similar venues in other cities — “Max10” in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, and a similar venue in France, 41 Rue du Temp (The Studio Paris), where performers sign up new work to show. This is her first time in Bellingham’s show.

“As I get older, I feel more confident in my vision and understand the idea that art is about the artist putting out ‘dots’ and the audience ‘connecting the dots’ for themselves — in whatever way they choose to or not,” she says. “I don’t have to connect them for the audience before I put them out.”

In some ways, she says, the audience is the last step in the creative process.

“There has to be room in there for the audience to think and connect with human condition on another level, and not be ‘told’ what to feel and think.”