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DANCE REVIEW

Trip unfurls a long, tedious ride

March 06, 2004|Sara Wolf | Special to The Times

Trip Dance Theater has cultivated a loyal following of Westside yoga mavens, chanters and ecstatic dancers -- spiritual trekkers well past E and 'shroom days but still looking to vibrate on a different frequency. Even if you were not a member of this tribe, you had to give the small crowd that gathered at Highways on Thursday credit for enduring "The Electromagnetic Field of the Heart Is 5,000 Times Greater Than That of the Brain ...," a protracted evening drenched in crimson colors and ritualistic conceits.

No one in this patient group was applauding, though, which raised a question: What was keeping them there?

The answer came in the final piece of the night, when Trip founder Monica Favand kicked into an improvisatory melange of free-form polyrhythmic articulations. The mixture of influences that made up her "Call and Response" (African torso isolations here, whirling dervish spins there) typified Favand's tendency to borrow and blend cultural idioms with abandon.

For the length of this altogether too brief solo, she was a sight to behold: a dynamic flurry of flying limbs and long hair riding the kinetic impulses of Ron Bartlett's and Hector Torres' percussion and Charlie Campagna's guitar accompaniment.

Before that, such vigor and whole-body commitment had been sorely missing in all but Quilet Rarang's rhythmically and texturally varied life-cycle-of-an-extraterrestrial-bird solo, "Blight," which featured descriptive gestures alongside exuberant leaps and dives.

At the other end of the energy scale was "Tangle," one of a series of slight, imagistic sketches, which relied on sustained backbends and uplifted arms as Favand dangled puppet-like from what looked to be a macrame plant holder.

Kara Masters and Craig Ng's indulgent "Symbiosis" likewise had a limited movement palette, with Masters' undulating spine and anguished reaching toward a blindfolded Ng filling in as content.

The remainder of the program, conceived and performed by various members of the six-person troupe, reiterated themes of unrequited (male-female) love. Save for the short breath and voice-initiated movement phrases in Favand's quintet, "Ups and Downs," bald emotion, broad gesture and statuesque poses usurped formal choreography as the Trip gang echoed worn-out tropes of Woman as the embodiment of Nature, Beauty, Girlish Giggles and other Sexy Virtues.

*

Trip Dance Theatre

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

When: Today and Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

Price: $18

Contact: (310) 315-1459

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