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.