There are angels on Earth, and not only at CBS. "Holiday on Modern II," a dance-community AIDS benefit at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, offered seven works--six of them premieres--on Thursday, where grieving and loss were tempered by reverence. The color white prevailed; emotions ran high.
In "Descent of Angels, Sections I-III," dancer-choreographer Phyllis Douglass and her Bridge Dance Theatre established a consoling, resilient tone. Set to Bach and Vivaldi, Douglass and her three dancers presented combinations of pairs and fleeting solos, in which outstretched arms and arched backs became gently falling bodies that elegantly rose again.
Pat Taylor's dreamy, two-part work, "Come Sunday"--a meditation on our reliance on each other--featured the passionate dancing of Daryl Copeland, Daanee Touchstone and Charles Zacharie, with Elaine Wang performing a plaintive solo, to the music of Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington.
Other solos: Shari Nyce's "Fear No Evil," a stunning amalgam of ballet and acrobatics in which Nyce, a kind of tattooed virgin in nightie and knee pads, excitedly rose and fell to Quincy Jones' music. "Slither," Monica Favand's 1995 take on Tchaikovsky's "Spanish Dance" from "The Nutcracker," saw Favand, as if being pulled by unseen forces, give new meaning to the verb "crawl."
Brian Frette's duet with Veronica Apodaca-Mendonca, "Breath of Heaven," was a languid study in adoration. Less successful were Kitty McNamee's "Automanic D" and "Star Sleigh," Bubba Carr's Christmas from hell, in which miming and off-key singing proved fatal to a woman clad only in wrapping paper.
* "Holiday on Modern II," tonight, 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. $25. (213) 660-8587.