Don't be fooled into thinking that Kinetics Dance Company's founder Dorothy Fried has disappeared into the bureaucratic woodwork of managing her company by turning over its artistic direction to local choreographer Alvin Mayes. The company's performance yesterday afternoon at the Baltimore Museum of Art, while having the distinction of Mr. Mayes'artistic debut, contained the latest and strongest choreographic venture by Ms. Fried.
Ms. Fried's nearly hourlong work, "The State of My Art," that closed the evening of five dances is in four distinct, highly theatrical and entertaining sections. It is both an anthology and a primer for anyone who has ever danced or wondered what the life of a dancer is all about.
What could have been a bitter portrayal is actually a witty and knowing observation on the life of an artist and the peripheral characters who often control and shape their lifes.
Ms. Fried keeps the theatrically attuned work rolling along with clever dialogue and fast-paced action. In the first section, "Dance to Remember," the company members tell the audience why they dance. One longtime Kinetics performer and associate, Stephanie Simmons, tells about her career with Twyla Tharp and about following the horse and pigeon show at Radio City Music Hall. The memories are not glamorous.
The rest of the work deals with the trials of the artist coping with a bureaucracy that requires forms to be filled, dates to be met and meeting to attend. At the bottom of Ms. Fried's list of things to do is "Choreograph and dance." And yet despite the wrangling with rules and regulations, with agencies that demand artistic definition, her message of survival is clear and finely stated.
Kinetics' new artistic director Alvin Mayes balanced Ms. Fried's works with three sophisticated dances. His newest work, "Aurora Borealis," is full of sensuous abstract movement that is orchestrated to the lush and hypnotic score by John Adams. Curiously, this work for four dancers could be an extension of Mr. Mayes' "Wintersleep," also shown on the program. Both dances, while distinctly differing in temperament, share the same movement values and sculptural understanding.
In "Aurora Borealis," movement dialogues are tossed between two couples like best friends completing sentences. In "Wintersleep," the weight of the dancers is shared and distributed in stunning sculptural arrangements.
The company's performance is already reaping benefits from this joint venture between Ms. Fried and Mr. Mayes. Technically and dynamically, it is dancing more like a real dance company.