Seattle choreographer and performance innovator KT Niehoff is widely known for her dance theater company Lingo Productions, and for cofounding Velocity Dance Center in 1996. This month she presents A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light, a rollicking spectacle featuring a live band, spooky showgirls, half-dead dancers and an audience free to roam where it may. 10/31–11/14. Times and prices vary. Bullitt Cabaret at ACT Theatre; acttheatre.org
LOCATION: Boat Street Kitchen
DRINKS: Niehoff, coffee with cream; Guppy, a mimosa
Nancy Guppy: Give me the elevator pitch for A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light.
KT Niehoff: A debauched, glam-rock, free-for-all musical that happens in a cave—and what happens there, stays there.
NG: In the press release for this show, your five core dancers are referred to as a coven. Are you a witch?
KT: Maybe. [Laughs.] When I generated this piece, I was really into the vampire universe, so I was using “coven” in a pop culture way.
NG: It’s been five years since you first presented Glimmer. Why bring it back?
KT: I heard a story on “This American Life” about a virtual universe that had been created by a bunch of people, and when it ended, it felt like the death of a world. That’s how I felt when Glimmer closed. So the chance to revisit that world was compelling to me.
NG: Glimmer blurs the line between performer and audience. What made you want to break the fourth wall?
KT: [With previous work] I felt almost narcissistic, like “Here, watch us do our thing. We’re so amazing!” It didn’t feel intimate or satisfying, so I started searching for a different kind of relationship between the watcher and the doer.
NG: What turns you on as an audience member?
KT: Something that hits so far back in the limbic system you can’t respond in a cogent way.
NG: How would you describe your approach to choreography?
KT: For years, I tried to generate material based on a preconceived idea. Now, if something catches my eye, I follow it.
NG: Glimmer features a live band, with you and Seattle musician Ivory Smith as front women. If you had to choose between choreographer and lead singer, what would it be?
KT: I grew up as a choral singer, and it’s at the very heart of me, so if somebody asked me to front an awesome band, I’d probably say, “Sure, I’ll do that!”
NG: Have you experienced an artistic high point?
KT: I think it’s Glimmer, because it feels the most outside of my command.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her TV series, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).