Technical indifference subverts choreography of Kinetics show

March 18, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

Kinetics Dance Theatre, under the artistic direction of Dorothy Fried, offered three new dances by distinctly different regional choreographers in the company's concert last weekend at the Howard County Center for the Arts.

Guest choreographer Alvin Mayes, who teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park, premiered "Aurora Borealis," a dance that despite its sophisticated sensuality and strong mirror-image movements appeared hollow and incomplete. The problem was more with the performance than with the abstract dance: The dancers looked basically uncomfortable with the intricate positions that glued them together. Even when they sustained simple poses and gazed dreamily out over the audience, I got the feeling that the dancers still were counting the phrases in their heads.

Dorothy Fried's "Reflections," a work for 10 dancers, used up all the available space in Kinetics' intimate theater. A lyrical and pastoral number in three sections to music by Vivaldi, the work began with a brief pantomime section that seemed curiously out of place in the larger scheme of the work.

The opening Allegro section was full of leaps, turns and odd little gestural quirks. The slower middle section, a quartet for two couples, relied heavily on unison as the pairs lunged, arched their backs, and raised their arms over their heads. The spirited final section reiterated movements seen in the first. The overall uplifting effect of the work was undermined by the general sloppiness of the dancing and the uninspired costumes.

Guest choreographer Sharon Wyrrick, from Washington, premiered "Intimations," a dance/theater piece that explores how everyday occurrences can trigger a memory. Using unspoken word, basic theater exercises and a score by Merideth Monk, "Intimations" effectively and wittily captures our imagination throughout the work's well-performed sections. A game of Clue, the recalling of childhood and high school games, the litany of things forgotten and things never forgotten are interwoven with the strong visual images of the six dancers wrapped in blankets slowly rolling across the floor.

As a company, Kinetics needs to pay more attention to movement detail. Too often, the choreography is subverted by technical indifference -- either the toe is pointed or it isn't. A hand is held in a fist or it isn't. Apathetic technique creates an apathetic audience.

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