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DANCE REVIEW

Primeval pain sets the scene in 'Flesh'

Angst is overriding in this suite of newly choreographed works.

August 23, 2003|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

If you're looking for diversion, pop scores or a Fred-and-Ginger kind of night, "Flesh," an evening of new choreography at Highways Performance Space, is not recommended. If, however, you're willing to go to the Planet of Pain, populated by deep-thinking, angst-ridden dance-makers, Erica Rebollar, Eryn Schon and Alesia Young will take you there.

At least that's what they did Thursday, when Rebollar, who bears a resemblance to Catherine Zeta-Jones, joined the elastic-limbed Efka Kvaraciejus to perform Schon's "Hush." Set to a bristling tape track by Charlie Compaigna -- its gunshot sounds give way to elegiac cellos only at the end -- this half-hour tour de force of stealth moves is wrapped in a tragic love story.

When Kvaraciejus takes to the air in a stunning series of leaps, one-armed cartwheels and backflips, we're in the land of crouching dancer, hidden choreographer: The couple strike warrior poses, alternately clinging to and abandoning each other until blackness breaks up the party.

Rebollar's "The Time It Takes to Love" begins with a previously reviewed solo, "Hunter/Hunted." As before, Rebollar dazzled with her signature martial arts/yoga variations.

Unfortunately, the next 20 minutes rambled, with Katharine Ashikita, Rebecca Levy and Schon trying to duplicate the choreographer's feral presence. Set to a collage of disparate music, their head rolling, arm flailing and crawling looked random. One longed for Rebollar to reappear; when she did, in a coda, it was as if the piece came back to life.

Young's "Consumed," a 35-minute treatise on an abused childhood, featured a haunting, theremin-like score by Rob R.F. Leng. As Young performed a gorgeous solo, wringing her skirt, arching her back and caressing herself, she was pain manifest. Caroline Harvey's taped narrative spoke of a brutal birth, while Rainy Demerson, Maria Kelling and Tracy Marion offered legs in spasm, splayed fingers and fetal positions in this primeval landscape.

A dropcloth dappled with phrases like "and now, after broken ankles" repeated words scrawled on the dancers' bodies: art writ large.

*

'Flesh'

Where: Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica

When: Tonight, 8:30

Price: $13-$15

Contact: (310) 315-1459

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