Dance Collaborative's works intriguing

May 02, 1994|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Special to The Sun

The Baltimore Dance Collaborative gave a benefit performance Saturday night for the House of Ruth at St. John's United Methodist Church. The seven dances presented by this five-woman performance ensemble -- consisting of Patricia Almirez, Luz Huntington, Kathleen Murphy, Laura Rowland and Marsha Tallerico -- demonstrated each member's interest in blending traditional components of contemporary dance with that of more experimental elements of performance art. The results of their experiments were thought-provoking, entertaining and, in some instances, downright disappointing.

One of the more successful works on the program was Kathleen Murphy's closing work, "Vow: A Line Dance for Women, Black jTC Dresses and Popular Culture." Prefaced by three poems that had the feminine as their subject -- and read rather matter-of-factly by poet Moira Egan -- "Vow" was performed by 11 women who alternated their backup singer gestures with simple static poses, to the bluesy music of singer Toni Braxton.

Ms. Murphy nicely balances her dance between a down-to-earth sensuality and a refined spirituality. The women can't be pinned down to any particular idea. Their demeanors change and shift. At first, the women are coy and hide their faces behind their hands. Later, they are more forward, as in unison they step and sway to the rhythms of the music.

"aCcesSOries" and "Feel like I'm twirling," both choreographed by Patricia Almirez, were both strong dances that dealt with issues on the opposite end of the scale. "Accessories," a trio for Ms. Almirez, Ms. Egan and Francesca Raimond, was a campy, performance-art dissertation on the "feminine ideal," with the dancers outfitted in platinum-blond wigs, white foundation garments and draped with beads, bracelets and belts.

In this one section, Ms. Raimond, then her co-performers, performed fancy flag twirling. Like a group of demented cheerleaders, they snapped and then cuddled their banners. Later, the women slow-danced with one another. At the close of the dance, the women removed all their accouterments and simply stood in front of the audience.

"Feel like I'm twirling" was a boy-girl work with Ms. Almirez and Ricky Parham playing with their size differences. Ms. Almirez is petite and Mr. Parham is tall, and the two of them enlarge the discrepancies when she carries him on and off the stage. While, neither dancer is technically above average, they both had enough spirit to carry the work.

"Twice" by Ms. Rowland and "But What a Lonely Resurrection" by Ms. Huntington somehow missed their marks. Ms. Rowland's work was too brief and needs further development, while Ms. Huntington's dance was overlong and incoherent. The dances by Ms. Tallerico, "Fear" and "Alibi," fell somewhere in between. However, St. John's Church is not the ideal venue for dance, and there is a lingering suspicion that all the dances would benefit when seen in a less intimate space.

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