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Joyful 'Voices' Showcases Rising Local Choreographers

Dance Reviews

September 14, 1998|VICTORIA LOOSELEAF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While the nation was saturated with the grippingly tawdry details of Bill and Monica over the weekend, "Voices in Motion," a showcase for locally emerging choreographers, presented its fifth-anniversary concert at Cal State L.A.'s State Playhouse with its own nod--albeit a much more oblique one--to the eternal question of boy-girl relationships.

In a nine-part program seen Saturday, with seven premieres, the evening seemed nearly as long as the Starr report, with less regard for detail, however, than overall intent. Technique and joy of movement permeated the atmosphere, although sheer inventiveness was far from rampant as the small but appreciative audience welcomed these stalwart voices.

The program opened with the sweetly simplistic work of Gustavo Gonzalez's Agua Luna Dance Company. "Flor de Mexico," the unit's new ode to flower markets, with the taped sounds of Mexican harp punctuating the rhythms, created a benign tableau in which a dozen blossom-laden dancers sashayed appealingly. The occasional collision notwithstanding, unique moments featured hunched-over men carrying brightly clad, beaming women on their backs.

Kitty McNamee's Hysterica Dance Company offered two premieres. "SRB" was a frenzied look at bedtime rituals as Bubba Carr, Ryan Heffington and McNamee playfully bounded about the stage to Vivaldi. Her "Shelter" utilized the Rolling Stones' hard-driving beat to portray the steamy side of club life, as Nancy Anderson, Brian Frette, Carr and Heffington, all sporting leather and Attitude, offered group groping, high kicks and S&M salutations.

The evening's centerpiece was "Fences," Phyllis G. Douglass' new work detailing urban angst. Her Bridge Dance Theatre--John Diaz, Maia Heiss, Mari Pittenger, Deborah Rosen and Robin Ziemer--made the street come alive, executing precise diving push-ups and quasi-break-dance moves, as Clyde Howell captured the action on video shot through three standing fences. Set to Brian Gross' sound collage, isolation, convergence and despair never looked so good.

Lisa K. Lock's new solo, "Breath," may have been an attempt to rise above human frailty. Wearing a unitard and a swatch of tulle, the statuesque dancer resembled a flitting fairy, moving easily from static, yoga-like poses to quivering arm gesticulations, enlivened by Rita Sahai's taped Indian raga.

Donlavy Dance Company also offered two new works, both meandering, disconnected tales of broken hearts, choreographed by Samuel Donlavy. "When Syllables Swallow Whole," with Emma Nagata, Kindra Windish and Donlavy, though beautifully danced, was redundant in body-slapping motifs and odd thumb-sucking gestures. "I Know Why the Wind Soars High" saw this same trio, plus Jake Sareerak, heavily emoting, writhing, and falling to the floor in a cabaret number in which Aaron Abrahamy played a heartfelt piano and Reisha Ragosta belted out a Frank Wildhorn tune.

Completing the program were two previously reviewed works: Michael Mizerany's quirky "Bump in the Road" and Lock's muscular girl-on-a-box opus, "Within."

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