The work’s messy setup has a decidedly neat, straightforward symbolism.
“It’s sort of like the idea of leaving my own mark,” Ignacio said.
That Ignacio’s choreography is about the desire to make an impression seems a fitting mission for the program in which it will be presented. Jan 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Choreographers’ Showcase, an annual concert that gives upstart dancemakers a platform on which to fine-tune their artistic voices and develop an audience for their work.
The showcase has evolved since its inception, with a change in venue and curator transforming its feel in recent years.
But through the changes, it has remained something of a rite of passage in the Washington area dance community. A long list of the region’s mainstay modern dance choreographers— Daniel Phoenix Singh, Nejla Yatkin, Tzveta Kassabova, Daniel Burkholder, Gesel Mason and the late Ed Tyler, to name a few — have shown their work in this program.
By providing artists with a healthy dose of constructive criticism and by serving as a crossroads for future collaborators to meet, the showcase continues to be a milepost for many dance artists who put down roots in Washington.
For a nascent choreographer, the showcase has two key advantages: The audition process is highly democratic, and there are multiple opportunities to get feedback on your efforts.
To strip the evaluations of any favoritism, judges are brought in from out of town and they aren’t allowed to know who choreographed the works.
“You don’t know if it’s a student, if it’s an accomplished choreographer. So you’re really looking at craft, authorship,” said Sean Curran, a former showcase judge who heads an eponymous contemporary dance troupe in New York.
Curran was struck by the broad range of applicants that came to compete for one of the six performance slots. He said the auditions included everything from “finished, mature voices” to “sophomoric maximalism” to “kids who were in pointe shoes that shouldn’t be.”
The judges are required to give comments and critiques to all applicants, even those who don’t make the cut.
“They gave me crazy-good pointers about the piece,” Ignacio said of his experience auditioning for the concert.
This year’s judges, Sidra Bell and Charles O. Anderson, told him his music choice was dragging down an otherwise well-crafted work. It prompted Ignacio to change his score entirely.