Infused with a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "Let's put on a show" sensibility, the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, under the artistic direction of Kate Hutter, made its debut Thursday night at Highways Performance Space. But plucky and sincere as the eight-member troupe is, the goods were far from delivered in its six-part program, "The Reveal."
Granted, Hutter -- a USC graduate and master of fine arts candidate at the State University of New York's Purchase College -- is young and still developing a movement vocabulary. What a news release calls her "signature work with voice, breath and rhythmic sections," however, could stand retooling.
Given to large female groupings, she typically intersperses frenzied hand motions with yoga-like postures, as in "Portraits of the Reveal." First presented at USC and inspired by photographer Imogen Cunningham, it features six dancers in slips who beam continually while running helter-skelter to string music best deemed lyric light.
In Hutter's "Triptych," seen at Purchase in December, a female quintet -- Lauren Dragicevich, Kristen Dusold, Devin Fulton, Jamila Glass and Allison Jones -- powers through head-clutching angst, skirt-swirling and backward skittering, seemingly detached from the Josquin des Prez score.
In the premiere "Passion Plays," Hutter and Kevin Williamson, both in white face with orange and blue hands, prance to the sounds of the Postal Service before smearing each other with greasepaint. Alternately robotic and jazzy but absent sensuality, this finger-painting duet is all smiles, little substance.
Of the two other premieres, "The Test Kitchen" is an improvisational romp with dance's inevitable prop -- chairs -- that features Christopher Hazelton, Katie Russell, Fulton, Glass and Williamson poking fun at pop culture, while "A Personalized Approach to Life by the Founders of Insecurity and Ego" squanders opportunities for male-male partnering, as Hazelton and Williamson goose-step, one-arm cartwheel and enigmatically pantomime instead.
Another Purchase piece, "Tragicomedy for the Melodramatic" -- Hutter's take on office politics -- completed a program that time, tinkering and required Merce Cunningham viewing might one day benefit.
L.A. Contemporary Dance Company
Where: Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica
When: 8:30 tonight, 3:30 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (310) 315-1459