Highways Performance Space played host to an auspicious pairing of choreographers Thursday in an evening of nine mostly new works under the banner "Left, Chronic, and Other Dances." Maria Gillespie is visceral; Carmela Hermann, cerebral. Both brim with a playful, yet profound, sense of the body in motion.
In Gillespie's premiere, "Chronic" -- a triptych of solos set to Max Duncan's original, Hendrix-like guitar groanings (on tape) -- Lillian Bitkoff, Holly Rothschild and Alesia Young could have been the three Graces -- in hell. Exploding with aggressive hopping, skittering and lunging, the piece, which with the other works repeats tonight at the Santa Monica venue, was a malleable sculpture in which beauty reigned in partnering. Gillespie's new solo, "Occiput, Gall Bladder, and Tibia," had the choreographer in a frisky mode, thoroughly enjoying a backward sliding gambit.
With "Sync Through, Revel Two," another Gillespie premiere, signature leaps and elongated stretches took on a kind of religious fervor as stunningly danced by Chris Stanley and Johnny Tu.
Also inspired: Hermann's duet, "Back and Forth," saw the choreographer exploring fugue-like unisons with Stefan Fabry. Improvising to Richard Inkyu Kim's live viola playing, Hermann vamped in "Chin, Left Kidney, Elbow, and Impulses."
Less successful was Kristen Smiarowski performing Hermann's text-based "About This Dance." And among previously reviewed pieces, Hermann's "Turning My Head to the Left" proved more adroit than its 2002 incarnation, with more detailed movement along with the talk.