In the past, Francisco Martinez Dancetheatre has occasionally been serious to the point of near-oppressiveness. In a pleasant and quirky departure, Martinez presented a 10-part, 30-minute suite, his premiere "Nachtliche Tanze" (Night Light Dances), at Grove Theater Center on Sunday, that delighted and charmed. Indeed, the work, set to a collage of German cabaret music, left one wanting more.
Vacillating between Busby Berkeley-like moves, mock-horror gestures one might associate with Nazism, and Keystone Kop-type antics, Martinez presented a bouquet of dance--and dancer--combinations. As a result, the work showcased a fine company and inspired choreography.
In "Rain Drops," stellar Michael Mizerany brandished a tennis racket while a quartet of delectable women--Carla Anderson, Erin Carper, Veronica Caudillo and Jennifer McDonald Wilson (all prone)--held balloons aloft, allowing Mizerany, displaying solid footwork, to take assured swings.
Caudillo, in a sexy solo, "Love Is a Secret," displayed cartoonish facial gestures and sweeping arms, also dancing, at one point, in a single mule. "Arpanetta" had Lisa Lock, Mizerany, Caudillo, Anderson, McDonald Wilson and Carper posing and preening like runway models. In winsome period frocks and hats (costumes by Martinez and Margaret Cortez), this section captured Hitler's notion of an Aryan nation--beauty and perfection abounding.
The finale, "Don't Say Farewell, Simply 'Servus,' " had the cast creating a coy tableau in which movement style took front and center stage. Indeed, throughout, these dances were more about movement style than anything else--this was German cabaret without a dark side.
Dancing with clarity in previously reviewed pieces: Victor Robles and Frances Zappella in 1989's "Variables," and Noune Diarbekirian in "Miniatures," seen earlier this year.