You can tell the tide is turning when Next Wave choreographers Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane provide a libretto for their new full-length work, "Secret Pastures," seen Saturday at Wadsworth Theater. Both the libretto and the action were cryptic, but no matter. The plot served purely as a pretext for the dancing, which was splendid, and for Jones and Zane's theatricality, which was suspect.
Dance motifs repeated and recombined in the minimalist mode formed the movement base, liberally embellished with quotes from ballet, disco dancing, gymnastics, and the flashdance style. The influence of video choreography was pervasive: graphic, angular poses, stop-start rhythms, and mostly side-to-side movement design.
But MTV never looked this good. The 11 Jones/Zane dancers were astonishingly able-bodied and versatile, physically and technically strong, and theatrically confident.
The troupe was also tireless. It had to be, since the story line of "Secret Pastures" kept the frenzied action going constantly. Again, the video influence was evident in a series of gang adventures that were largely without meaning or consequence.