Thursday, June 6, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Moving Beyond Graney -- Kim Root Takes A Lead From Pat Graney's Methods, With Results All Her Own

Seattle Times Dance Critic

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Kim Root and Karen Garrett de Luna in a shared evening of new dances, 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday, On the Boards, 153 14th Ave.; $6-$10; 726-2122.

It's been months since Pat Graney's most recent dance epic, "Sleep (making peace with the angels)," debuted at the Moore Theatre. Yet the overflow from that complex, two-year group improvisation project hasn't stopped. Just last month, Graneyesque gesture language and alternative ritual peppered new dances by Amii LeGendre and Peggy Piacenza, two Graney dancers who showed works at On the Boards.

Now, this weekend, another Graney company member, Kim Root, a Corvallis, Ore., native, is putting on a show. It's easy to identify Root: She's 5 feet 9 inches tall and all legs ("My legs are as long as someone who's 5 inches taller than me," she says.) Root was a recent dance grad from Hunter College in New York City when she went off to an audition for the Graney company in 1992. Most recently, she played the Alice-in-Wonderland bride-to-be in "Sleep."

Like other Graney-ite choreographers, Root's using some of her friends for work in her own show (Alison Cockrill, Robin Jennings, Jean Landry, Piacenza and LeGendre). On top of that, she's enlisted Graney alum KT Niehoff, Graney company manager Kim Saxton and Graney herself. (She would have had a royal flush, but final company member Saiko Kobayashi had to bow out.)

It was handy for Root to have a fully functioning company to work with since she put this ambitious concert together on two months notice. Root says she got the conviction and confidence to finish three new dances and restage an old one, plus handle all the administrative details, from her exposure to Graney's own work methods. "Pat will just decide to do something and do it," Root says. "Watching her do that, and succeed, has been very influential."

When it comes to choreography, the Graney comparison dries up. Root breaks it down simply: "I'm kinesthetically based, she's visually based. My whole way of thinking is totally kinetic, all about movement flow. She's so picture-oriented. There's a big difference." So big, in fact, that for the first year in Graney's company, Root felt so out of sync she kept wondering, "Why did she choose me?"

These days the two get along. But Root has never stopped wanting to "dance big," with lots of flow and "falling, catching, sending the fall somewhere else. I'm really interested in pedestrian and normal movement that can go in and out of bigger movement, then back to that pedestrian place."

After working with Graney, Root says she's more comfortable making dances with "inner subtext." Her major premiere on this program, a 12-section suite called "The Uncomfortable Cafe" is a kaleidoscopic look at public anxiety and cafe personae. Root's other new work is the more abstract "Implicit Imponderably," about "the sense of volume" that is created if you dance "imagining that your body is wavering outside your skin."

Karen Garrett de Luna is sharing the bill, with a piece called "blue." A recent UW dance major grad, de Luna has set soft, detailed gestures against big explosive movements. The central tune, the Velvet Underground's "Heroin," initially chosen to honor a friend who overdosed, remained in place as the piece changed, de Luna says, because of the way it speaks of "addiction in relationships" and its "surging slow-fast rhythm."

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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