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DANCE REVIEW

Heady brew at new downtown venue

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company inaugurates Brewery Arts Complex space.

March 17, 2007|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

With a program of premieres created in the new Diavolo Lab Space at the Brewery Arts Complex, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company launched its debut season Thursday in the adjacent performance area, a fabulous studio with 25-foot ceilings that has been home to Jacques Heim's Diavolo troupe for nearly five years.

"Uninhibited Space," as the program was dubbed, consisted of four works showcasing three choreographers, including artistic director Kate Hutter, along with the energetic dancing of her 10-member troupe.

Hutter's "Big Skirt Woman Dance," a female quintet set to a pastiche of music including Bach and DJ Danger Mouse, offered plenty of joyous bouncing, beseeching arms and running entrances and exits but little cohesive movement. This frenetic 10-minute work begged for moments of stasis and a chance for both dancers and audience to catch their collective breath.

At 15 minutes, Ryan Heffington's "Diary Entry Final" proved more successful. Employing yoga-inspired moves and a neo-Irish step-dancing motif -- stiff upper torsos on legs flitting across the floor, with arms locked down -- Heffington unleashed seven dancers who also crab-walked, spun and struck sexual-simulation poses reminiscent of party time at the Roman Forum. Devin Fulton and Michael Crotty were particularly appealing in their silky undulations, while the remixed Elvis tune "Can't Help Falling in Love" added an edge to the group grope. Heffington's belted tunics were another adroit touch.

In "Poignant Phrases (From the Test Kitchen)," Hutter showed a whimsical side. Facing the audience, she projected slides of text on the rear wall ("This is the men's trio," "I call him squirrel") that provided a running commentary as Lou Becker, Carlos Rodriguez and Crotty delivered a series of karate kick-extensions, backward bends and giant lunges.

Terri Best's 20-minute "The Union," set to string quartet selections by Philip Glass, featured thrilling, in-your-face unison clusters and a soaring sense of promise in well-executed leaps and bourree-like skittering. But in its eight sections, too many ideas remained either undeveloped or overwrought.

Like lemmings, the nine dancers (including a frisky Hutter) kept pace with Glass' swelling pulsations, breaking off into smaller sets of tangled arms and legs, with Fulton, an object of desire, then hoisted high in hood-ornament mode by these deliriously eager assemblages.

In L.A., where dance needs nurturing, it's great to know that new works, however knotty, are also brewing amid the downtown renaissance.

*

L.A. Contemporary Dance Company

Where: Diavolo at the Brewery Arts Complex, 616 N. Moulton Ave., L.A.

When: 8 tonight., 5 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Thursday through next Saturday, 5 p.m. March 25

Price: $15 to $25

Contact: (323) 883-1948

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