Dutch troupe's dancers in no need of translation

January 15, 1993|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Contributing Writer

Onafhankelijk Toneel may have an unpronounceable name to American tongues, but without a doubt the experimental Dutch dance troupe appearing at the Theatre Project successfully transcends any language barrier.

Onafhankelijk Toneel, or Independent Theater, appears in Baltimore as part of a three-year, four-city tour and exchange program between the United States and the Netherlands. While the Rotterdam-based company is noted for its large-scale productions, for its first U.S. tour the troupe selected a solo performance, "Man in a Hurry," and a duet, "Amy and Ana."

"Man in a Hurry," the first offering of the program, was conceived and performed by Ton Lutgerink, a founding member of the company. The half-hour solo draws heavily on theatrical traditions with concentrated gestures that at times come close to mime. Yet the well-controlled tension in Mr. Lutgerink's body never allows him to cross that line.

The stage is empty but for a small stool and an island of newspapers that serves as a grounding place throughout the dance. Mr. Lutgerink often returns to the pile of papers to gain momentum. His gestures vacillate, alternately compressing or expanding. More than once his movements are initiated but not fully executed; they merely peter out, like a thought that is never completed.

His unfulfilled movements are gilded with pathos and there is a droll humor that unfolds within the dance's range of movements. At times it seems Mr. Lutgerink's body could crumble beneath him despite his well-mannered posing. But the choreographer is in control. "Man in a Hurry" is an intense and finely concentrated work.

"Amy and Ana," a duet performed by Amy Gale and Ana Teixido, is a wonderful slice-of-life portrait of two women who thrive in a hot house of mutual inspiration.

The work, choreographed by Ms. Gale, Ms. Teixido and Mr. Lutgerink, takes place in a room outfitted with all the comforts of home. As the duet progresses, one becomes acutely aware of contrasting dynamics. Amy is decisive and no-nonsense; Ana is exotic and cunning.

They dance in tandem, their movements echoing each other, and the curious and often humorous interludes that interrupt their dancing add extra color to the work.

Combining elements of classical training with those of ballroom and contemporary dance, the women often intimidate, challenge and outwit each other.

There is an undercurrent of eroticism that tugs at the couple, and at the conclusion, Amy deftly steers Ana through the complicated steps and quickening tempo of a modified tango, leaving Amy, Ana and the audience breathless.

Onafhankelijk Toneel

Where: Theater Project, 45 W. Preston St.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $14; $8 for students, senior citizens and artists.

Call: (410) 752-8558.

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