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DANCE REVIEWS

Beautiful Dreamers in Swiss Dance Troupe

September 23, 1996|JENNIFER FISHER

All you can tell from the name of the contemporary dance group "Compagnie Nomades-Le Loft Vevey" is that they travel and presumably have a loft in their home city of Vevey, Switzerland. It turns out the six dancers are also beautiful movers, working together as smoothly and precisely as a well-oiled timepiece--that is, if there is such a thing for dream-time.

At the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State Long Beach on Saturday night, each of three pieces by different choreographers seemed to unfold as if in a dream, a stream of vignettes bathed in grayish or sepia light. There were brief, problematic romantic encounters, a feeling of trance-like weightlessness and an endless series of seamlessly connected, quickly dissolving painterly images.

The taped music throughout moved through phases that included blues, pop or folk tunes; repetitive, percussive segments; and some sound effects, like birds or crowd noises. Nothing had to make sense, and in fact, much of the evening seemed like an evanescent wash of stillborn ideas. But very pretty ideas: The company's overall style tempers balletic precision with relaxed, curving, well-cushioned movements.

"D'eux," by Philippe Trehet, was about couples and their sad attempts to connect. Its three successive duets were like danced conversation, moving from loving caresses to indifferent shoves; or soft surrender to abrupt withdrawal. Courtship was a wittier kind of combat in Philippe Lizon's "Bidon donc," largely due to the mime talent of Angelo Dello Iacono and Miyuki Sato. Again, bliss and conflict arose and dissolved quickly, but Lizon gave the dancers a loose-limbed, shuffling kind of locomotion that had its own bumbling logic.

During the last piece, "Euskara," by Serge Compardon, co-artistic director (with Florence Faure), the well-oiled timepiece started to run slow. Dreamy, moody vignettes, no matter how well danced (Kathy Thompson stood out here) can only take you so far--then it's a short hop from a mesmerizing experience to falling asleep.

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