"Titan Arum is an extravagant reverie for six dancers and five live musicians,
including Seattle avant-garde treasure Stuart Dempster. The piece has the
iconography and weight of an undiscovered mythology. Co-choreographer
Corrie Befort appears on a balcony as a gold-faced queen, her enormous
dress stretching down to the main floor below. Her collaborator Beth Graczyk
enters topless, wearing a tiger's head, violently thrusting her hands and spine
from left to right. Black creatures scuttle around and menace a woman (also
Graczyk) sitting in a pew. A story-high glacier of stiff white fabric glows from
within while Dempster plays a long, guttural note on his trombone that sounds
like a roomful of Buddhist monks growling om. When it was over, the audience
looked dazed, like it had just been woken up from a long, rich, and vaguely
disturbing dream." – The Stranger Suggests, Brendan Kiley
"Salt Horse choreographers Beth Graczyk and Corrie Befort use that space, I’m tempted to say, and will, to uncanny effect…Salt Horse composer Angelina Baldoz’s inventive, eclectic, atmospheric score arrives in stereo, with musicians stationed on the floor either side of the stage…I don’t want to over-describe the show, though that’s a distinct temptation: The first two-thirds are a Pandora’s Box of surrealist invention and investigation, and the psychological undercurrents are so affecting, you end up wanting to recount them like you would a strange dream… I get the feeling this is not a group that wants to know how well they’ve danced; each is very good, but it seems off-point to discuss the technique of Befort’s golden-faced Empress, say, Graczyk’s tiger-headed woman. Better to say that each comes alive for you, that you get to know them from their gestures and movements because they illuminate." - “The Sublime and Surreal in Salt Horse’s Titan Arum,” The SunBreak, Michael van Baker
"Their newest work, the evening-length premiere of Titan Arum, blossoms in the company's trademark style: scattered sound dialog, scenario-based improvisation and strange, ghostly creatures… Salt Horse's expertise lies in the ability to fashion elusive, shape-shifting work of unmoderated meaning: an experience where the viewer's perception reigns supreme…Consistently, with every project, Salt Horse creates a theatrical hallucinogen, a Boggart-esque experience which welcomes subjective perception. A watcher may feel confounded or duped, isolated from the experience,or may emerge feeling enlightened, confidently proclaiming a perceived meaning." – Seattlest, Amy Mikel
"Most nightmares frighten, and to wake up is sweet relief. In Salt Horse's Titan Arum however choreographers Beth Graczyk and Corrie Befort create a nightmarish world that intrigues and fascinates; a world through which dancers navigate, encountering mythical and sublime creatures, investigating power and leaving interpretation to the viewer’s discretion. Created as a site-specific work, Titan Arum fits tightly into Washington Hall, and the choreographers use the space to the best of its capacity. Dancers appear in the U-shaped balcony, crawl over benches, explode out of creaking hinged doors and slither down walls…Like the overused metaphor of rubbernecking at a terrible car accident, the grotesque characters are fascinating; they beg to be watched…A visually stunning piece that presents the interaction (and intersection) of reality and the surreal, Titan Arum frightens in a fascinating way, leaving dreamy, intangible impressions that are hard to shake." – CityArts, Rachel Gallaher
"Salt Horse, led by Beth Graczyk and Corrie Befort, is a familiar and surreal affair, often employing unlikely props and costumes. But in Serpentinite, an excerpt from the forthcoming Titan Arum, Graczyk and Befort hone their imaginative world down to pure motion. Six dancers continually cross space at wildly varied speeds, the moves of each like a dialect that isn't intelligible to the others. Sometimes they seem not so much to move as to be moved by twitching and sometimes terrifying unseen forces. Emerging from this sometimes frenzied, sometimes spooky action, Alia Swersky simply dazzles. She's a long-limbed dream of a dancer who plays her body as though it were a keyboard. The rippling way she articulates her limbs, carving space as she goes, is pure sculpture in motion." - Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times. Read full review here.
Man on the Beach:
Listen to Alice Kaderlan interviewed by KUOW's Dave Beck here.
"That mystifying mix of stilled and thrumming energy, blended to perfection and borne along here by human bodies, is what makes Salt Horse’s “Man on the Beach,” the troupe's new evening-length work, so endlessly watchable and timeless. It also gives the work — which doesn’t skimp on artifice and technical effects — an incredibly honest, organic feel. Choreographed by the visionary three-headed Salt Horse team . . . “Man on the Beach” unfolds in linked vignettes of single characters and duets that build and transform incrementally until a certain central tide has turned." - Jean Lenihan, Crosscut. Read full review here.
"This well-respected company has a reputation for the dreamy, the ethereal, even the spooky; meshing sound, image and movement to create a powerful multi-layered experience. Man on the Beach is indeed eliciting an excited buzz among Seattle’s dance community. Everyone wants to see it; everyone wants you to see it. Good art does not dictate meaning, and Man on the Beach, while structured around a core message, remains open to interpretation." - Amy Mikel, Seattlest. Read full review here.
"They have a clear, singular vision, favoring deft and mostly subtle moves until a mesmerizing, hallucinogenic freak-out at the end, when a bearded man (Michael Rioux) is replicated by all eight dancers, their hair tied in a knot like his, their faces covered with painted-on whiskers, flinging themselves around the stage." - Brendan Kiley, The Stranger Suggests. Read full review here.
"The best "special effect," however, is the dancing. While much of "Man" is physical theater, when actual dance is called for - especially in Graczyk's work with Rioux - the performers know exactly how to forge a fluid, tumbling dynamic from an array of stunted movements. In their hands, the everyday gradually builds up to the reckless and impassioned. They handle the transitions with a natural, springy ease that's a pleasure to watch, even in the show's most cryptic moments."
- Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times. Read full review here.
“It is so damn hard to get allegorical storytelling translated into movement. Images fall flat, or feel overweighted, or just so free-floating and random that the stage becomes an endless crazy carnival written in an unknowable tongue. But here in Seattle, the legacy of great achievers in movement poetry (33 Fainting Spells, Pat Graney, Robert Davidson) continues in strong health this month with the full-evening premiere of “Man on the Beach” by Salt Horse. Trust me on this: you’ll never forget the mysterious, swollen moments of human struggle and satisfaction created by choreographers Beth Graczyk and Corrie Befort and musician Angelina Baldoz.” - Breathlesspace, Jean Lenihan's Writings on Dance and Other Movements
". . . most of the show feels both alien and familiar, like watching a nightmare backward. Dancers mirror each others' steps, sometimes with gaps in between so it's like watching a visual echo. Props—which include a jarring sculpture of tangled blue chairs and a pair of empty shoes that move of their own accord—invite the audience to attach their own meanings to these every day, yet out of context, objects." - Jennifer Williams, The Spectator. Read full review here.
Read Jeremy M. Barker's pre-performance interview for the SunBreak here.
Man on the Beach Northwest New Works 2009:
"Meditative, enigmatic, and haunting . . . closed out the weekend to shouting applause." - Brendan Kiley, The Stranger, Seattle
“intense and beautiful" - Jean Lenihan, Seattle Times
"A gorgeous score by Baldoz creates a cinematic container for the work." - Tonya Lockyer, Seattle artist and blogger
“Some of the festival's most charming moments were "performed" by props or ghosts. The pair of shoes that seemed to walk on their own, following Beth Graczyk in Salt Horse's Man on the Beach, were a poignant suggestion of a missing person.”
- Sandi Kurtz, Seattle Weekly
This was a cliff 2009 US tour:
“Look out especially for renegade Seattle group Salt Horse, which walks the line between dance and performance art with unsettling tableaux choreographed to original, semi-melodious soundscapes.” - Lauren Friedman, Philadelphia City Paper
"Imagistic dance-theater works in which reality and fantasy collide and cooperate” - Rita Felciano, San Francisco Bay Guardian
"The work leaves us in a state of dark disquietude that’s also a state of grace— the effect of having witnessed something so weird and beautiful.” – Jonathan M. Stein, Philadelphia Broad Street Review
"Implied a dream narrative - unbalanced, yet never faltering in its secretive arc, amusing . . . and finally, shocking as one dancer covered head to foot in matted hair, throws herself prostrate in the middle of the audience. If she sought mercy, she got that in the form of explosive applause.” - Merilyn Jackson, The Philadelphia Inquirer
This was a cliff, Seattle premiere:
“Watching Beth Graczyk and Corrie Befort in Salt Horse is like listening to two distinct voices singing together, sometimes hitting the same note, sometimes harmonizing, something going wildly discordant---but always deeply attuned to each other, knowing when to be in synch and when to clash. The movement itself---sometimes graceful and liquid, sometimes skittish and jangled---engages the audience, but it's the interplay of their bodies, something as impossible to describe as the air between their flashing limbs, that is the true subject of this marvelous dance. Layer on top of that the actual voice and music of Angelina Baldoz, who glides between ambiance and naked, vibrating emotion, and you have a truly unique and inimitable dance: Spare and full, speckled with odd images and perverse costumes, but at its most essential when Graczyk and Befort are simply negotiating sharing the same space.” - Bret Fetzer, Seattle Critic
"In the multiple-choice world of dance categories, Salt Horse would fall under "none of the above." Full of images as disjointed and unrelated as the title itself, the whole of the piece still has an organic unity, a kind of inevitable chaos. Choreographers and dancers Corrie Befort and Beth Graczyk, in collaboration with composer Angelina Baldoz, have made a specific little world full of spasmic activity and exquisite stillness." - Sandra Kurtz, Seattle Weekly
“Salt Horse was tantalizing and unexplainable in the same moment. There was firm directorial guidance and no guidance simultaneously. The performers inhabited a world where a very different logic pertained and those unexpected moments of compelling logic gave me a weird sort of vertigo, turning my inner ear on end and my imagination spinning. It was startlingly funny, terrifying, disorienting and full of an unnamed grief and longing that was visceral and deeply moving for me.”
- Emily Stone, Seattle/Portland-based artist
“Salt Horse is a collective & a performance: simultaneously mythic and intensely personal. Befort and Graczyk's idiosyncratic, densely repetitive choreography blends instinct, will, vitality and frailty. The whole enterprise has a raw, handmade quality. At it's best, Salt Horse is a dreamlike fairy tale where women struggle from an over-abundance; caught in webs of their own hair, dragging long sculpted arms, balancing motionless in cathorni as composer Angelina Baldoz's live score oscillates between incantation and a weather system.” - Tonya Lockyer, Seattle-based artist and blogger
"With every moment fulfilled, Salt Horse was a gift to Time. Strangely and powerfully engaging. If I were Time, I would be gratified watching myself be spent in the creation of Salt Horse. As a viewer, I felt like a student of Timothy Leary; Salt Horse opened the subconscious province of human continuation. Befort, Baldoz and Graczyk took us to indefinable and secret/abstruse ways of being." - Jessica Jobaris, corpuscorpus movement association, Seattle/Berlin