Should dancer-choreographer Deborah Brockus contemplate a career switch, she could find work as a costume designer: The myriad wardrobe changes her nine-woman Brockus Project Dance Company underwent on Saturday at Cal State Long Beach's Knoebel Theater were dizzying. Too bad the program--three premieres--was not as absorbing, or as varied, as the apparel.
"Edge of the Sands," a 35-minute foray into Middle Eastern exoticism, was a kind of "English Patient" meets Cirque du Soleil. Brockus, who also designed the billowing fabric that served as a desert tableau, mined a whirling dervish motif, with trance dancing, yoga poses and veil wielding vying for center stage.
Notable in this eight-part suite: Brockus, whose jazz-modern background served her well in impossibly high kicks; a zesty Angelique Christensen; Karen Acosta, whose solo was convincing, if not mesmerizing; and a slinky Felicity Flanery.
While Santana is back on the charts, Brockus made use of the group's vintage music in "LA Olio," a six-part blitzkrieg of "Hullabaloo"-like gyrations. The company, including Monica Kindle, Madeline Humphrey-Gaites, Cindy Kitagawa, Genevieve Perez and Julia Wilson, delivered 30 minutes of toe-tapping frugging, floor-sliding splits and endless shimmying.
Brockus' limited movement vocabulary, coupled with her crowding the stage with full-tilt bodies, causes her works to blur, divesting them of meaning. One longs for a lento or a pas de deux. In "Always Ever Amber," the final mini-epic, guest dancer Deva Ly ably partners Christensen, hoisting her overhead and displaying a cleanness of line, but he soon disappears, and Brockus reverts to her group themes of leaping and spinning.
More like an extended Gap commercial, the night proved near-stultifying.