Next Ice Age dance company brings the best of skating, modern dance to Columbia


April 03, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

The Next Ice Age, Baltimore's ice dance company, opened its six-evening engagement at Columbia's Ice Rink last night.

Choreographers/skaters/artistic directors Nathan Birch and Tim Murphy, along with guest artist Dorothy Hamill, have put together a program that blends the best of skating with modern dance, guaranteed to take the chill out of the ice rink temperature.

The program of seven dances at the transformed ice rink -- there are wings, as with a true proscenium stage -- was split between the premier of Mr. Birch's nearly hourlong "Sisyphean Victory" and six shorter dances.

"Sisyphean Victory," skated with flawless precision by the eight-member company and Ms. Hamill to the first three movements Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, was a joyful affirmation of the power of positive thought.

Mr. Birch carefully weaves his movements across the structure of the music, effectively evoking the emotional and dramatic undertones of both the score and the work's theme.

The sections alternate from heavy to light, and the movements are often striking and inventive. Ms. Hamill's superb skating skills are featured throughout the work.

At one point, the women skate totally off-center, balancing on one leg on the very edge of their blades. In another, the men slip and slide across the ice just on the edge of disaster

Wave after wave, the skaters advance and retreat, forming tight circles, intricate patterns, that break apart like a kaleidoscope.

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