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Pop Culture Fuels Bike Cycle

Dance Review

November 03, 1997|VICTORIA LOOSELEAF

That we live in an overtly mechanized society cannot be disputed. That Benita Bike's DanceArt Company appeared to be drowning in a sea of equally roboticized choreography Saturday at Cal State Long Beach also proved dulling. Which is not to say that Bike's locally based four-woman troupe did not move with grace, strength and occasional body-swooshing appeal in their five-part program presented in the intimacy of the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theatre.

Taking her cues from pop culture, Bike's premiere "Human Nature" offered a capricious, if repetitive, look at modern-day foibles. Set to a taped track of hurdy-gurdy sounds and attempting to lampoon commercialism, Cari Reese Beehler, Elizabeth Oppermann, Kerri Underwood and Robin Kish maintained Petrouchka-like posturing while delivering a glut of hip-wiggling, finger-wagging, perpetually open-mouthed stances. Kish's solo, a self-caressing homage to Tom Cruise, neither erotic nor funny, was one mating dance best left in the boudoir.

Keeping with the nature theme, "Nature Studies" explored the animal-insect worlds to better advantage. A Lou Harrison score provided a meditative backdrop, as Kish, Underwood and Oppermann effected states of smooth wonderment and quiet reverie.

Beehler's solo "Journey" strove for angst-inducing fervor but proved an emotionless, self-indulgent, floor-sprawling gambit, Dean Wallraff's haunting viola track notwithstanding.

The previously reviewed "Angels and Wantons" showcased a mystical Oppermann, while "Un Petit Divertissement," with Beehler and Underwood as harlequins, set the coy, cute and mostly superficial tone for the evening. Doreen Tighe's skillful lighting helped, as did Glynna Goff's costumes, but Bike's work needs to break out of automatic pilot to surpass the prosaic.

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