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MUSIC AND DANCE REVIEWS

Gymnastic Flair Propels Diavolo

November 04, 1996|VICTORIA LOOSELEAF

In an evening crammed with tableaux ranging from Brando-esque "Apocalypse Now" horrors to Fun House frippery, Jacques Heim's locally based Diavolo Dance Theater again proved that its brand of iconoclastic movement might very well be the dance bridge to the 21st century.

As part of Cal State L.A.'s Fall Ahead Performance and Dance Festival, the troupe presented a program of six pieces on Friday, all previously seen, save for the current work-in-progress, "Une Porte," Megan Godfrey's fearless solo.

Appearing in, on and around a large door designed and lit by Roger Webb and Chad Smith respectively, Godfrey managed a series of moves rivaling gymnast Kerry Strug. Whether hanging bat-like from the door's jamb or perched atop it as if to swan dive into the abyss, Godfrey's control was unswervingly graceful. Jean-Pierre Bedoyan's synthesized tape provided counterpoint to the color-intensive frieze that bled from gold to scarlet, further amplifying the danger factor.

Nick Erickson reprised "Equilibre," his swooping antics while strapped to a hyper-springy chair creating vaudevillian fare with books and milk. Diavolo favorites, "D.2.R.-l" and "D.2.R.-ll," again proved gymnastic showpieces successfully exploiting Daniel Wheeler's wooden wall. A khaki-clad cast maneuvers among steel pegs in the first; the second involves rope-loops that the dancers implement against slide projections (stairs and skyscrapers), generating motifs tinged with auto-erotic asphyxiation to ledge-teetering.

"Divan d'Enfer" finds the group cavorting among six sofas to an epicurean-laced text. No couch potatoes here, the tumbling, leaping, gender-battling dancers amuse and divert, conjuring up a Dr. Seussian world. One wonders if next time Diavolo might attempt going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

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