The Dance on the Edge Series opened its season at the Baltimore Museum of Art this weekend with the New York-based Randy Warshaw Dance Company. Mr. Warshaw and his agreeable troupe of six technically astute dancers presented two pieces, each distinctly different in tone.
The bleak opening number, "Event Horizon," created in 1989, was presented before Mr. Warshaw's 1987 work, the smoother "Fragile Anchor." After all was said and danced, this reversal proved a satisfactory arrangement.
Many would describe "Event Horizon" as indicative of a New York style. It's bold, confrontational, angry and urban. The Baltimore audience responded only politely to its somewhat pessimistic viewpoint as the company wrestled, sparred and skirmished to the dissonant and jarring score by Trio Bravo and John King.
Body contact was abrupt and curt. Dancers literally bounced off one another or were thrown unceremoniously. Movements were largely off-center, off-balance and constantly in a push-pull flux. At one point, two women created a swing with their arms for a third, then suddenly and cruelly dropped her.
The work was a jumble of collisions and near collisions that was matched by the pure cacophony of a score reminiscent at times of a hyperactive child at a radio dial.
The dance's imperfect ending left the audience confused. Mr. Warshaw, an optimist at heart, ended this refractory dance with an image of quiet containment -- a couple standing in a single pool of light. It felt tacked on and artificial.
"Fragile Anchor" gave us Mr. Warshaw's optimism fully realized. Where "Event Horizon" was full of rigid right angles, "Fragile Anchor" displayed smooth circles and arches. The opening unison created a sea of movements where solos, duets and trios materialized like welcoming islands.
Mr. Warshaw's choreography is attractive although not classically pretty. The space is thoroughly used. What occurs in the peripheral spaces is as valid as what happens center stage. Movement is not censured by intellect, but rather flows naturally out of the dancer's body like a ball of string rolling down a hallway.
At the close, the audience warmly responded to this company's generous performance. The final image of a man leaning, half submerged in the wings, was simply perfect.