There aren’t many dancers who can take the annual toll on one’s body as well as one’s pocketbook. Sallee Slagle, of Nahant, is one of them.
Now in her 20th year as Artistic Director of Forty Steps Dance, Slagle has been fiscally sponsored by the Boston Dance Alliance, and recently incorporated as a non-profit cultural heritage institution.
To honor the journey, Forty Steps Dance will perform a 20th Anniversary Concert at Nahant Town Hall on Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m., with captivating works from the past, present and future:
“Fragile” (2001 & 2011)
“Beneath the Surface” (2010)
“The Flood” (2012)
and excerpts from two new works in progress, “Creatures” and “Steps.”
The performance is partially funded by the Nahant Cultural Council. General Admission tickets are $20 before March 1, and $25 afterward; $18 for seniors, students and members of the Boston Dance Alliance. Tickets may be purchased online, or by calling 781-599-1476.
Twenty Years and Counting
In residence in the Serenity Room at the Nahant Community Center, Slagle also operates Dance Dimensions, a school for kids and adults who want the low-down on hip hop, or ballet, as well as ballroom and fitness.
“Twenty years ago, I was living in Nahant, performing and teaching,” Slagle recalls. “I had a craving to create my own choreography, to express my vision through dance. When I thought about a name for the dance troupe, it was really obvious: Forty Steps, the most beautiful spot in our backyard.”
Her long brown hair pulled back into a bun often held in place with chopsticks, Slagle approaches her chosen music and hears echoes of choreographic phrases from Modern dance greats Doris Humphrey and José Limón. She then infuses the tradition with her singular vision, contemporary themes and costumes.
Forty Steps Dance performs regularly in concerts throughout the Boston area including recently with North Shore Dance Alliance, Exit Dance Theatre of Newburyport and the Danny Swain Dance Company of Boston.
For the last three summers, the company has split the evening playbill on the outdoor stage at Rockport’s Windhover Center for Performing Arts with the Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre company of New York City. Dušan Týnek’s dances electrify with a strong and diversely beautiful company performing highly entertaining patterns and organic formations in the choreographer’s allusions to city life.
Slagle’s dances, by contrast, “unlock the subconscious,” said Laura Smith, a member of the Swampscott Cultural Council who is frequently in the audience. “When I watch them, my insides move around, not knowing what comes next-- and then a phrase recurs to make the whole thing make sense."
The demanding choreography is effortlessly executed by a troupe of ten lyrical and athletic modern dancers who have some serious street cred of their own.
Keep the Channel Open
In Slagle’s long-standing annual creativity workshop for adult non-dancers, she reveals that abstract movements represent different things to every member of the audience, and sometimes the people won’t know what it is until it hits them, maybe the next day, maybe later. Dance is like that; it happens in the moment and lingers in the mind.
Please visit Boston Dance Alliance and support Forty Steps Dance, a native cultural institution in culturally progressive Nahant!