Local audiences who saw the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform Ulysses Dove's exciting "Vespers" just a few weeks ago will notice how different the work looks on "Two by Dove" tonight on KCET-TV Channel 28.
Yes, the six powerhouse Ailey women still hurtle between banks of chairs accompanied by a Mikel Rouse percussion score. But director David Hinton has introduced a scenic environment, lighting effects and camera angles that heighten the dimensional relationships in the choreography and draw you into its force field. Notwithstanding minor lapses in movement continuity, this is the finest transcription of a stage work the PBS "Dance in America" series has offered in years.
Hinton and his colleagues prove just as successful with Dove's "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven," a showpiece for six members of the Royal Swedish Ballet that focuses on death and the survivor's need to let go--the same theme as "Vespers." Dove is very moving when describing the inspiration for the work in an interview segment.
However, the ballet itself crudely flings virtuoso steps at a score by Arvo Part, ill-suited to the speed and choppiness of the choreography. Only a male duet has any originality. The rest relies on the standard ballet-modern rhetoric pioneered by John Butler and polished by Glen Tetley. It also borrows the assaultive style of "Vespers" and other Dove creations.
A former Ailey dancer, Dove doesn't have a company but works free-lance. Quite unintentionally, "Two by Dove" suggests that he does the same thing wherever he works: adjusting a prefab attack, pace and mood of suppressed hysteria to whatever company, music or movement vocabulary is available. In that sense, "Two by Dove" is definitely one too many.
* "Two by Dove" airs on the PBS "Dance in America" series at 10 tonight on KCET-TV Channel 28.