Last Saturday night, Kinetics Dance Theatre, the Howard County-based troupe, threw a benefit gala for itself at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The highlight of the evening was not the interesting mix of the crowd, which contained political and corporate heavy-hitters, but the performance itself that brought Kinetics alumni Stephanie Simmons, JoAnne Shay O'Neill and Liese Weber Frutchey together with current company dancers and guest artist Gary David Shaw for a full and diverse program of 10 dances.
Kinetics has gone through several changes since its founding in 1984 by Dorothy Fried. Once a modern dance company, it recently joined forces with ballet choreographer Donna Harrington-Payne, whose two new works ably demonstrated her strong choreographic talents.
"Movement Pour Trois," finely performed by Anne Parshall, Virginie Pauc and David Miller to music by Bela Bartok, was abstract, fast-paced and inundated with difficult lifts, engrossing arm gestures and offbeat footwork reminiscent of both Balanchine and "Carmen."
"Faces," a snippet of a work performed by Kinetics members, dramatically elucidated the words of the song "Be Not Always" recorded by Michael Jackson. Iris Anderson, Alexis Darnall, Alicia Graf and Jennifer Martinez all evidenced a pleasant stage presence and nice, clean lines, but the piece was really too brief.
Ms. Fried's work for 10 apprentice dancers, "Vogue," to Madonna's song of the same title, also interpreted the words of a song, but here the mood was upbeat, and the dancers (and audience) clearly enjoyed their posturings and MTV moves.
Alvin Mayes took over as the company's artistic director last year. Mr. Mayes presented four dances, including the premiere of "Con el Corazon Sobre las Olas (With My Heart Over the Waves)" set to music by Hector Villa-Lobos. "With My Heart" explored the tension and release of wave motion as nine young women curled their torsos inward or spiraled their upper backs with a nice sensitivity to the movements. However, the ending was dramatically abrupt.
"Wintersleep," a wonderfully romantic duet danced perfectly by Ms. Parshall and Mr. Miller to the lush score of Ralph Vaughn XTC Williams, blossomed with daring sensual lifts that were underscored by a remarkable sense of trust. Mr. Mayes' quartet for Amanda Thom-Woodson, Andrea Pozzi, Luke Loy and Mr. Miller, "Aurora Borealis," closed the evening. This dance has definitely improved with age and new costumes. It took mature and sensitive performers to find the heart of wonderment in this dance.