"Dancers at a Gathering," seen Saturday night at the Baltimore Museum of Art, was tantamount to throwing a window open to let in the fresh air. The works of three local groups -- The Baltimore Dance Collaborative under the direction of Marsha Tallerico, Nancy Havlik's Dance Performance Group and Chris Dohse's Toothmother -- were featured on a program of nine XTC dances. They included Mr. Dohse's surrealistic excerpt from "delivered free in heaven together" where a dead bluefish was Mr. Dohse's dance partner; Baltimore Dance Collaborative's emotionally attuned diptych that juxtaposed Kathleen Murphy's "Opening" with Patricia Almirez's "somewhere I have never travelled"; and Ms. Havlik's well-constructed abstract study, "Walls and Doors Back 2 Sq. 1."
Generally speaking, the dances created by Ms. Tallerico's troupe are theatrical. They can be imbued with a quirky sense of humor, as in the opening "Linear World" with Ms. Tallerico, Ms. Almirez, Ms. Murphy, Luz Huntington and Laura Rowland in a study of corporate one-upmanship and competitiveness where musical chairs and leg-lifts separate the girls from the women. Or, they can have an aura of sinister mystery, as in "Alibi," a duet choreographed by Ms. Rowland and Ms. Tallerico.
In BDC's work in progress, "when my feet touched the earth, i fell," choreographed by Ms. Tallerico and Ms. Murphy, both humor and drama seesaw in a saga of three dumped debutantes who wear tattered formals and defiantly shake their fists at the sky.
Nancy Havlik's Dance Performance Group follows the route of traditional contemporary dance. Well-crafted and well-thought out, Ms. Havlik's premiere, " Edgewatchers," featuring Jessica Ames, Alison Ball, Barbara Bush, Annetta Dexter and Annuel Dowdell Preston, is a solid piece of choreography that animated the accompanying Walt Whitman quote, "As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universe and of the future."
Ms. Havlik's quartet, "Taking off and Poling Out," wonderfully captures the tintinnabulation of Henry Crowells and John Adams music.
Mr. Dohse is a performer/choreographer to watch. His closing work, "At Home In The Water," displays his charisma and ability to draw the audience into his world. The duet for Mr. Dohse and Tony Agostinelli combines gestures culled from athletic motifs with those of a more tender nature.
With Mr. Dohse it is not only the unconventional, the unexpected way of looking at things, it is his exquisite phrasing that makes what he says eloquent.