Dance Alloy offers mixed blessing

November 23, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

Pittsburgh's Dance Alloy gave a sound performance last night as the company opened the second leg of the "Dance on the Edge" series at Towson State University's Stephens Hall.

Series attendees will undoubtedly recognize the company's choreographer and artistic director, Mark Taylor, who has performed in Baltimore several times with his own company. As newly appointed artistic director of Dance Alloy, Mr. Taylor brings his own wealth of choreography to a company that already has a significant repertoire.

Mr. Taylor opened the evening with his work "Devotion," a treatise on dysfunctional relationships and obsessive romantic behavior. The dance was performed by company members Dennis Birkes, Michele de la Reza, Jennifer Keller, Peter Kope, Mark Taylor and Mary Williford to outstanding music by composer and musician Elise Tobin.

Love triangles and unrequited love duets were the centerpieces of the work.

Mr. Taylor squeezes gesture so tightly that the dancer's movements are nuggets of emotion.

Bodies implode, then rebound just on the edge of abandon.

Behind the six dancing figures, three large Botero-inspired paintings by artist Vincent Desiderio declare their own interpretations of devotion. Yet despite the dance's hypercharged emotionalism, "Devotion" feels cold and distant as all this emoting left everyone too drained to really care.

Where "Devotion" was somber, Mr. Taylor's next work, "Nine Tales," was simply silly. The rubber-band quality of composer John Zorn's score was the impetus for this dance. Mr. Dirkes, Ms. de la Reza, and Ms. Keller were prey that Ms. Williford stalked. The cartoon quality of both the music and the dance often felt as if Mr. Taylor had abstracted a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

"Province," a duet for Mr. Taylor and Ms. Williford, was excerpted from Mr. Taylor's evening length work "Xanadu." The duet is an exploration of sex and power. Crouching on all fours, Ms. Williford takes the full body weight of Mr. Taylor. He pulls her head back, as if reining her in, then the couple exchange places. Images flicker in and out like memory, first dull, then clear and bright.

In addition to Mr. Taylor's dances, Dance Alloy presented (with audience assistance) the ultimate marketing survey, Mitchell Rose's "Walkpeople."

The program closed with Mark Dendy's "Beat," a hyped-up athletic work that falls somewhere between an aerobics dance class and boot camp.

Dance Alloy will perform tonight at Stephens Hall at 8 p.m. Tickets for the general public are $14.

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