Rain Dance

Three women stand at the front of a stage, wearing nothing but cardboard storm clouds with stick-on name tags affixed to their, er ... lapels. They stand awkwardly, almost shyly, and point goofily at the name tags, leaning toward a microphone as if to say something. The audience titters. The lights go down.

Fast-forward a few minutes, and these same three women, dressed in contemporary button-down shirts and short black skirts re-enter, and begin an intricate dance incorporating stools, martini glasses and much flinging of long, loosely clasped hair.

Those are the first few minutes of Maria the Storm Cloud, performed by Seattle dance troupe 33 Fainting Spells. Group co-founder Dayna Hanson explains that the piece was born two years ago, sparked by the image of a person destroying an umbrella and discarding it on stage. "That image didn't make it into the piece," says Hanson, "but the idea of wild mood swings in correlation with changes in weather got us going initially."

That "us" is Hanson, Gaelen Hanson (no relation) and Peggy Piacenza. Hanson and Hanson joined forces in 1994, drawn to each other by their mutual attention to choreographic minutiae. Gaelen Hanson and Piacenza have been dancing since they could walk; Dayna Hanson, a former writer, has yet to take a dance class. Together they fuse a refreshing approach to dance, veering away from befuddling abstraction, appealing instead to the heart, and embodying its many fainting spells.

-- Melanie Haupt

33 Fainting Spells performs Maria the Storm Cloud October 16 & 17, 23 & 24 at DiverseWorks. Showtimes are 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for DiverseWorks members. 1117 East Freeway (off North Main at Naylor). For more information, call 223-8346.

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Melanie Haupt