Hot, airless and cramped, with ruinous sight lines: Academy West studio in Santa Monica may be the worst local venue for dance. From the third row--this reviewer's perch for the Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble on Saturday evening--floor work and footwork simply can't be seen. Too many heads are in the way.
Perez is a major creative force in local modern dance; it is tragic to find him so badly showcased. In their premiere performances, both his "Debut" and "Fall-Out" deserved far closer attention to shifts of pulse or pattern than the conditions at Academy West permitted.
Set to a tape collage that included a TV director's instructions to his cameramen ("Zoom in, 3, on the dancer"), "Debut" seemed a mordant comment on show-dance in its audience-oriented routines for four hyper-glamorous performers.
Accompanied by a Lloyd Rogers score--the same type of structuralist repetition/modulation cycle that Rogers' Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra had explored so relentlessly on the first (non-dance) half of the program--"Fall-Out" seemed to be about failed relationships. With increasing desperation, dancers briefly clung to one another, then whirled away, ending up alone (yet still in a group), waving or reaching wildly.
However, as with "Debut," only the general outline of the choreography could be glimpsed Saturday. Thus critical appraisal will have to await a more adequate viewing opportunity.