Kinetics looks at dark side of urban life

November 02, 1995|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"City Blocks," the newest work by Kinetics Dance Theatre artistic director Ken Skrzesz, is a dark and tumultuous look at the violence in urban life. It premiered in a nearly complete renovated space at the Howard County Center for the Arts last weekend.

Danced in front of a packed audience of suburbanites whose lives are often removed from city violence, the performance was tinged with irony as it sought to portray the fragmented acts of cruelty and violence that have become all too familiar in daily news.

Danced by all eight company members, "City Blocks" creates a sharply splintered world where danger lurks around the corner, at the top of a flight of stairs, in the subway or in the park; where "being in the wrong place at the wrong time" is one hapless victim's explanation for the violence. The dance is frightening in its litanies of rapes, brutalities and petty meanness. It doesn't preach or offer solutions. Instead, it effectively produces a vision of a society numbly accepting violence and fear as a way of life.

Segregated in groups of twos and threes, the company is separated from one another. Softly, the seven women and one man initiate repetitive pedestrian gestures. We see glimpses of household chores, of cooking or drinking, as the dancers perform the small movements that form the building blocks of our everyday lives.

Woven throughout the movements are threads of spoken text. The dancers, holding on to their partners, begin to run. Their movements enlarge, and they reverse direction. The work climaxes in a marathon of scrabbling, overblown movement that becomes a frenzy of activity and closes with the group, in a tight fTC circle, wandering aimlessly, telling their tales of woe.

Sharing the program with the premiere were Kinetics member Elizabeth Ahearn's "Sketches," a finely crafted work for three couples, and Amanda Thom-Woodson's quirky and somewhat Gothic "Shadowlands," danced by the entire company. Rounding out the evening was Mr. Skrzesz's "Variations on Joy."

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