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Harris Works Show Strong, Evolving Personal Style : DANCE REVIEW

May 02, 1994|CHRIS PASLES

In the first local program devoted entirely to her works, dancer-choreographer Winifred R. Harris reignited the excited interest she generated at the "Black Choreographers" festival last year.

Although only two works on the program by her Between Lines company over the weekend at Cal State Los Angeles were new, another three had never been seen in Los Angeles. Two others--"Like a Deer in Headlights" and the ecstatic, complex "When Wet Came to Paper"--have been previously reviewed in these pages.

The dances, seen Friday, span a period of about eight years and show a range of interest in different forms and subjects, as well as common elements and, of course, evolution of a strong personal style of depth and rich choreographic interest.

Already in "Faces in the Trees," the earliest work, a solo created in 1986 to music by Sadao Watanabe, there is unquestionable mastery.

A kind of modern dance "L'apres-midi d'un faune," the work, strongly danced by Michelle Beauchamp, generates enormous physical tension through twisted, compacted upper-body shapes maintained largely within a two-dimensional plastique.

"The Bluest Sky" (1991), a homeless solo danced by Adrian Young, already shows acute social awareness and purpose--although it doesn't entirely escape the airy lyricism that characterizes the plotless and weak group piece "Eclipse" (1987).

Harris' new solo, "In This Pot" (music by Cassandra Wilson), combines social purpose with her distinctive movement style--balleticism infused with Africanism. The first part is pure dance, but Harris' repetition of some movements in the second part while speaking of the power and purpose of dance recontextualizes them.

The retro-reading of events also appears in the new " . . . And Through Their Eyes I See," which deconstructs an opening image of monkish serenity through recapturing youthful innocence and freedom and their corruption by religious paranoia and guilt.

Set to songs by Rickie Lee Jones and Tori Amos, it was danced powerfully by Beauchamp, Young, Monica Dalsasso and Catherine Ybarra.

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