Dances poised on the verge of dream-states and focused by severe spatial restriction made up a stimulating program titled "Clerestory," Friday at La Boca, Sunshine Mission, downtown.
Resituating the performance area for each piece, choreographers Melinda Ring, Roxanne Steinberg and Naoyuki Oguri created specific dance environments that heightened the intimacy and sense of flow in their new works.
Ring's solo, "Edge of Reflection," found her literally cornered by the audience and composer Paul Chavez while transforming his guitar motifs and textures into thoughtful movement statements.
In her rising, falling, reaching, twisting responses to Chavez, she neither became the music nor ever appeared engulfed by it. Instead, she seemed to function as a translator using some undivulged system of physical-musical equivalents. Or perhaps dreaming them up as she went along.
Her unaccompanied "Explanation 4" in the courtyard cast her in a similar role: standing behind a book and "reading" unseen its lines of print with her fingertips. Exploring the air and her own body in the same manner, she again used the simplest movement to invoke profound perceptual issues.
Less mental than Ring's pieces, Steinberg's solo, "The Color of Water," used prerecorded music by Chavez and a narrow path between banks of spectators to isolate her immersion in what seemed an intuitive process of renewal.
Slowly curling downward, inward, she would end in the fetal position only to spring out, up, her arms spread as if ready to embrace whatever she encountered. Soon, however, the need to pull back and sink into total self-absorption reclaimed her.
Set on and around a tiny, black platform stage, Oguri's nightmarish "Drift" used his new seven-member company, Renzokutai, as a kind of mini-society: ever watchful, fearful and inevitably victimized by violence of its own making.
Stark, grotesque dance imagery in Japanese butoh style gained a dark richness and even delicacy here from Chavez's score, which incorporated everything from the sweetest wind chimes all the way to thunderous lengths of sheet-metal wielded by the dancers themselves. Plus the smallest bowed instruments you've ever seen.
Performances of "Clerestory" resume next weekend and are offered free to the public under a grant from the L.A. City Department of Cultural Affairs.
* "Clerestory," new dances by Melinda Ring, Roxanne Steinberg and Naoyuki Oguri, continues at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, at La Boca, Sunshine Mission, 2600 S. Hoover St. (at Adams Blvd.). Admission is free. Information: ( 310 ) 395-8215.