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DANCE REVIEW : 'Voices in Motion' Series Opens at the New Ivar

June 05, 1993|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rehabilitated from its recent burlesque-cum-porno-film-house past, the New Ivar Theatre in Hollywood emerges as a tidy, 222-seat, plain-wrap theater aiming to go legit.

A consecutive four-day dance series, "Voices in Motion," opened there Thursday, under the sponsorship of the reputable Inner City Cultural Center. Six Los Angeles choreographers will be represented with new works.

To get to the theater, patrons have to negotiate a sidewalk that is still in disrepair. Inside, they find a tiny lobby, seats that are not staggered and a floor that inclines very slightly toward the front of the stage. But they are able to see the dancers' feet, if just barely, even from the front row.

The place has the feel of already being worn, but it is cozy and it does have the amenity of springy, reclining seats, usually found in cushy studio screening rooms.

Three choreographers' work was presented. Winifred R. Harris sustained the interest she had generated last month at the "Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century" festival. But she was fighting several liabilities.

All her pieces were billed as works-in-progress and most of them did have an inconclusive feel. Moreover, she showed a wide but diffuse range of interests and styles, from the cool, elegant lyricism of "Pathworks" for five dancers, to her grittier own solo, "Rags."

She developed gentle humor in "Under Construction"; juxtaposed vivid movement with iconic, oppressive imagery in "Alien Animals," and explored mere abstract formalism in "Emotions in Motion." The second choreographer, Samuel Donlavy, danced strongly, but his company was technically very uneven and his work tended to be flashy and simplistic. Expressive gestures in his solo, "For Just a Moment," for instance, were instantly followed by airy, unmotivated balleticisms.

The Daryl Copeland Dance Theatre did not exactly balance both terms in its name in Copeland's "Coming to Terms." This was mostly walk-about drama tracing an addict's decline, fall and maybe-resurrection, with bursts of dance movement. Copeland's ideas and convictions seem powerful, but his intermittent choreography is not.

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