Dorfman draws fantasy, reality together

November 08, 1994|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Special to The Sun

Carolyn Dorfman brought her wonderfully astute choreography and fine company of dancers to the Baltimore School for the Arts on Sunday. The New York-based choreographer visually and dramatically tantalized with her clever combinations of music and movement.

Opening the program of four dances was the abstract work "Sextet." Suffused with fascinating imagery and movements, Ms. Dorfman's dancers were constantly off-center, rolling or tumbling across the stage. Ms. Dorfman often reiterated a free-fall motif, tossing and inverting bodies, then snapping her dancers into unison. Horacee Arnold's music swept the dancers along as it careened through ever-changing rhythms.

"Living Room Music," a work danced by the full company, effortlessly pulled us into Ms. Dorfman's war between fantasy and reality. Underlined by local composer Neal Woodson's multi-textured composition, which combined sound bites of familiar TV (Lawrence Welk and the Home Shopping Network, for instance) with original music, Ms. Dorfman deftly portrayed personal illusions colliding with reality.

Three dancers dressed in evening finery were the symbolic ideals; the rest of the dancers, dressed in everyday clothes, represented reality. The interplay between the two sets was the nucleus of the lengthy work, but Ms. Dorfman was careful to make her sections bite-size so that the dance was easily digested. Her use of chairs was as arresting as her movements. At one telling moment, one of the fantasy figures literally pulled the chair out from under a dancer.

Jose Limon's "Concerto Grosso" -- a trio danced by John R. Freeman, Dina Macaione and Robin Shevitz -- was a reminder that each dance reflects its own time. Mr. Limon's classically modern movements seem so old-fashioned compared with dancers' movements today. There is a restraint in how the body moves through space that we just take for granted.

Today's young dancers learn a wealth of style that makes choreography more varied and more interesting to look at.

Closing the program was "Love Suite Love," to the angst-ridden songs of Patsy Cline. Ms. Dorfman smartly explores her theme of unrequited love in wry, on-the-mark variations. Using pillows for props was an intuitive and evocative gesture, as any teen-ager knows.

Carolyn Dorfman's works are engaging, intelligent dances that deserve a wider audience.

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