Not even a bomb threat that caused the evacuation of Royce Hall, UCLA, on Thursday evening reduced audience enthusiasm for the Chicago-based Hubbard Street Dance Company in its first local appearance.
Just before 9 p.m., during the first intermission, everyone was asked to leave Royce Hall. Fifteen minutes later, after a search of the premises, the building was reopened.
According to Fred Allen, UCLA concert manager, campus police had received two telephone threats: one mentioning three different buildings, one specifically identifying Royce Hall. Reportedly, no protest group or cause was mentioned in these calls.
The incident was obviously unrelated to anything on Hubbard Street's innocuous-to-a-fault program. Indeed, the eight-year-old, 14-dancer company merely unleashed its notable expertise and energy on six jazz-ballet pieces that had nothing in mind but lightweight entertainment.
Artistic director Lou Conte's period charade "At the Rosebud" found two men and five women prancing to ragtime music by everyone from Scott Joplin to Billy Joel. Only when the cast tapped and clapped while seated on stools did Conte produce fresh and inventive movement rhythms to match the still-surprising, still-elite syncopations of the accompaniment.
Conte's "The '40s" responded to big-band music by Sy Oliver and Ralph Burns with more breezy superficiality, though the ensemble sold the springy unison footwork strongly. After a subdued, promising start, "Line Drive"--by Conte and assistant artistic director Claire Bataille--set pro forma jazz-dance combinations to rock music by Pipo and Mingo Lewis. Nothing special in any of these showpieces--but the audience greeted them with wild, prolonged ovations.
The big hit, though, was a familiar duet by a guest choreographer: Lynne Taylor-Corbett's rhapsodic, balletic "Diary," set to banal speech and song by Judith Lander. Bataille and Jeffery Myers vanquished the technical feats with much greater surety and emotional power than their counterparts in American Ballet Theatre II.
Bataille's gymnastic "Full Moon" (to Copland) and John McFall's structuralist "Tiempo" (to Stravinsky) both provided diversionary glosses on music demanding dance conceptions of greater rigor.
MICHAEL MOSCHEN IN LITTLE TOKYO
Michael Moschen tries to fool you into thinking he's only a juggler. But his lyric, virtuosic performance on the "Exploration" series Thursday at the Japan American Theatre showed him going beyond tricks to investigate weight, balance and movement in dream landscapes.
In "Light," he made objects take on a life of their own: Four crystal balls, for instance, seemed to hover in the air, engage in wavy acrobatics and finally turn to weightless bubbles--thanks to Moschen's matchless, almost invisible manipulations. (Dressed in black, almost like a bunraku puppeteer, he seemed to want the audience virtually to ignore him.)
In "Sticks," objects seemed to rebel against him. A metal rod fluttered in his hands like a bird trying to escape, and other rods (hurtled from offstage by an assistant) seemed menacingly to pursue him. But he mastered them, in a final, dazzling display of twirling.
Fire appeared in the next and closing work, "Finale," with Moschen whirling two flaming torches. The enthusiastic audience went wild, and with good reason.