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DANCE REVIEW

Beauty and grace unfold in slow-mo

June 09, 2003|Jennifer Fisher | Special to The Times

The L.A. Chamber Ballet is undergoing a name change to match its identity. It seems the words "chamber" and "ballet" suggest pointe shoes and tutus, whereas Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet, the emerging name (both are still used), points to the company's sleek, soft-shoed neoclassicism.

At the Luckman Theatre on the campus of Cal State L.A. on Saturday night, Rogers' ballet minimalism meant that bodies became radiant instruments. Occasionally, however, too much slow motion felt as uneventful as a clock ticking.

On a stage with open wing space, the company's 11 focused dancers entered and exited frequently in all four pieces, often using a toe-dragging walk, often carefully unfolding, balancing, rising and sinking with a wonderfully calm, studied air. Couples and trios drew the eye to myriad visual pleasures; group work in unison looked a bit ragged. Though unisex leotards replaced tutus and princely tunics, partnering never strayed from conservative male-female ballet protocols.

"In C," first seen in New York last August, heated up to Terry Riley's compelling score and had stunning moments with Lisa Gillespie, one of those dancers who takes you with her when she moves into Zen-like moments of stillness, propulsion and grace. Veronica Caudillo, John Funk and Brett Conway also shone here.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 12, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Cellist -- In a review of the Raiford Rogers dance troupe in Monday's Calendar, composer Carlos Rodriguez was incorrectly identified as the musician who played Rodriguez's electric cello score. The score was performed by Matthew Cooker.

The evening's world premiere, "Ex Machina," was a bite-sized ballet that went by without incident. Or at least it seemed less colorful than the electric cello score, played upstage by composer Carlos Rodriguez, behind a scrim; or the scrim itself, which projections of light turned from a cloudy blue sky to a lime or crimson abstract painting. Liz Stillwell's lighting also dramatically colored an otherwise underwhelming "Cabin Fever (Part 2)" (1996) and the still-witty "Where Are You My Love?" (1995).

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