The good, the bad and the ugly were all on view Thursday when REDCAT's annual New Original Works Festival began the second week of its three-week, three-program series. Unfortunately, the bad and the ugly were all too prominent with Poor Dog Group's slapdash theater piece, "Hey. Hey, man. Hey."
Happily, Holly Johnston's "Politics of Intimacy" proved better than good. A fascinating look at relationships, the 15-minute work was powerfully performed by members of Johnston's Ledges and Bones Dance Project. Making use of four chairs, Nguyen Nguyen, Kindra Windish, Nick Heitzeberg and Stephanie Jamieson switched partners as fluidly as they switched seats.
Whether slouching to the sedate sounds of Joseph Harvey, Julie Pusch and Peter Volk's score (on tape) or amping up the physicality by hurtling their bodies to the floor, these dancers filled each moment with grit and gusto. Donning helmets, the men head-butted while the ladies looked on, awaiting their turns in John A. Garofalo's stark spotlight.
This continuously churning, push-pull display of duets, unison moves and magnificent lifts unspooled as a tapestry of trust and anti-trust: There was tenderness in a caressed head, violence in rejection, rebellion in a skewed arabesque. Johnston continues to evolve, her work emblematic of today's societal ambiguities, when it seems all we really want and/or need is a little affection.