Dancing on a limb: Dance company presents ‘Up|Rooted’

Dancers seem to push the boundaries of what is physically possible at Bellingham Repertory Dance’s ninth anniversary spring production, “Up|Rooted,” says Alethea Alexander, company member.

The show will run for one weekend only, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday, May 29-31, at Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Fairhaven.

Established in 2006, Bellingham Repertory Dance’s mission is to bring professional-level performance to the dancers and audiences of Whatcom County, and to support established and emerging choreographers. Dancers audition annually for the group, and many have performed professionally across the country.

The new production challenges both the dancers and the audience to re-imagine the impossible with intricate partner work, costumes, and ropes that lift performers off the stage, Alexander says.

The production was commissioned from Seattle choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott, who goes by the name Molly Scott. While the company usually presents works that have been previously performed elsewhere, the new work was made specifically for Bellingham Repertory dancers.

Alexander calls Scott’s 30-minute piece “powerful example of technique and kinetics that plays beautifully in the immediacy of the Firehouse.”

“The process of building this new work with Scott has been an unusual one for the company, and has allowed us to not only showcase our specific talents and idiosyncrasies, but to push them to tenuous extremes that challenge and excite both us and our audiences,” she says.

Scott will be available for a question-and-answer session with the audience after the 7:30 p.m. Saturday show.

Alexander says the company will also premier a dance film made by dancer Juliette Machado that features Bellingham Repertory performers.

“A first for us, this film is a cinematic perspective on modern dance that was shot and edited in Bellingham,” Alexander says.

The company is also presenting an excerpt from San Francisco Bay-area choreographer Rachael Lincoln’s “Coats.”

“Sylvia Graham and I will seem to defy gravity in the work,” Alexander says.

Finally, Rachael Lincoln’s excerpts from her full-length work, “An Attic, An Exit,” are physically and technically unique.

“Bruises and missing teeth included, we’ve had so much fun with these works and can’t wait to share them,” says Alexander.

Entering its 10th season this fall, the company is “on the precipice of change, no doubt,” Alexander says. “We are growing into the equally expanding Bellingham scene, and into our shape as an increasingly professional modern dance company.”

Firehouse Performing Arts Center has been the home for the company’s rehearsals and performances. But the building is up for sale, so “Up|Rooted” might be the last opportunity to watch the dancers perform in the intimate space.

“We are still looking into performance and rehearsal space for next year, but are in no doubt as to the quality of work that we will share,” Alexander says. “With five new dancers acquired at our recent audition —and an apprentice, a first for the company— and new works from Virginia, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, we are barreling full-speed into our next year.

“We’re 10! Double digits, baby!”