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Works By Meunier

October 21, 1985|LEWIS SEGAL | Times Dance Writer

Locally based modern dance choreographer Gilberte Meunier seems to have taken literally the name of the "Angel's Flight" performance series downtown at the Wallenboyd. On Friday, her thoughtful new suite "The Sky Closes on the Vale of Hybla" began with three women swooping through buoyant turns-in-extension wearing leotards and, across their shoulders, gauzy winglike veils. "Angel's Flight" indeed.

The two other sections may have grown more secular in accompaniment (Clemencic Consort) and earthier in style, but the upward-reaching arms and difficult shifts of position/direction during slow turns balanced on one leg linked all three parts of this pious ritual.

Unfortunately, few of the women in Meunier's seven-member cast could manage the technical challenges with even minimal steadiness. Thus, the performance Friday added to her sense of spiritual struggle an extra, and perhaps unintentional, statement about the weaknesses of the flesh.

Meunier's new mime-based "Gargouillade" also developed religious connotations through both its music (Miroslav Tadic) and its whimsical depiction of Gothic gargoyles and tomb sculpture. Her five-woman cast displayed a uniform mastery of facial grotesquerie and sustained slow-motion interaction skillfully. Only the opening tableau--more Halloween-devil pose than Hell's Mouth frieze--seemed less than sharply observed and meticulously reproduced.

In rearranging the audience and performing areas of the Wallenboyd into a viable (if unorthodox) dance space, Meunier again proved her brilliance at finding hidden possibilities in grim local venues. Indeed, for all the sensitivity of her current dance works, they often appear far less imaginative than her resourceful architectural ploys. Her previously reviewed "Fruits of the Earth" completed the program.

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