In 1974, Tacoma native Dean Moss, a math major, turned down an air force ROTC scholarship to study dance; in 1979, he accepted a scholarship at Dance Theatre of Harlem. He performed with American Dance Machine and in the Broadway revival of West Side Story, returning to his first love, concert dance, with David Gordon in 1983. A decade later, he left Gordon and started waiting tables at Florent to support his own choreographic work. Last year he won a raft of prizes, and in July was appointed curator of dance and performance at the Kitchen, the only job since his Broadway stint that provides health insurance. His own work-in-progress, American Deluxe, previews there next month, on a bill shared with Iréne Hultman.
The first artist he brings to the Kitchen is Israeli choreographer Inbal Pinto; her Wrapped, playing Wednesday through Friday, was inspired by French film great Jacques Tati. Pinto, born to a Russian-Polish mother and a father whose roots in Israel go back seven generations, has, like Moss’s mentor Gordon, earned her living doing window displays. Her current tour marks her troupe’s American debut. Moss finds Wrapped “interesting because of its art direction, its integration of dance in a fantastical performance environment. It’s more sneakily elaborate than things I’ve seen at the Kitchen, with full sets and everything. I’m interested in the visual arts part of performance, the integration of disciplines, and the Kitchen, having begun as a music-video-visual arts space, is a good match for Inbal’s work. You only have 140 seats, but you also have the best black box in the country.”