Towson State concert disorients and energizes

July 16, 1996|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the fourth year, Towson State University has put together an evening of dance created and performed by alumni, faculty and friends that is spliced onto the Maryland Arts Festival. While Friday night's rain caused the dancers to move the performance indoors, the weather did not diminish the dancing.

Under the direction of faculty member Jaye Knutson, "Headways II: The Alumni/Faculty Dance Concert" of 11 diverse dances featured the works of faculty members Knutson, Deborah Meyers and Dennis Price and alumni Dina K. Ward, Terrance Duncan, Megan Smith and Diane Pippen. And as in all recent dance productions at TSU, Alex Sidorowicz, dean of fine arts and communications, performed with the dancers. Again, as in the previous year, Kista Tucker, who teaches at the State University of New York at Brockport and has her own dance company, was a guest performer and choreographer.

Tucker's connection to TSU was never explained in the program notes, but her highly focused dancing in her solo, "Excerpts from Little Old Men," was one of the highlights of the evening. Danced to music by Tom Waits, Tucker's choreography is evocative of Abstract Expressionism. Layered with pedestrian imagery, a sense of character flickered through the dance. However, there was nothing substantial to grab on to. Instead, brief kinetic ideas, a particular stance, a shuffling walk, a scrabbling across the floor created an effect that was both engaging and disorienting.

Gesture and icons

In Tucker's "Part I -- Trio," danced to music by Arvo Part, she is patient with both the movement and the score and allows the three dancers -- Alisa Decker, Elizabeth Hoefner and Meghan Taylor -- to slowly evolve their movements parallel to the music. Tucker again distilled her movements from a heady mixture of gesture and cultural icons.

Ward, a 1988 graduate, opened and closed the evening with two high-powered jazz dance numbers that energized the audience. Both "Rollin,' " a strong-hearted romp that incorporated the idiom of hip-hop street dance to music by Hammer, and "Dragon Dance," a work that balanced kung fu and jazz movements in a fast-paced dance were skillfully choreographed and entertaining dances as performed by Ward's group of dancers.

Pippen, a 1980 graduate, displayed a healthy dose of angst and wit in her two dances, "Really I'm Fine" and "Crazy." Of the two works, "Crazy," with its quirky symbolism and deadpan humor, was the more successful as the choreographer and five women struggled to come to grips with "Love." "Pacific Rocks," danced by co-creators Duncan, a 1996 graduate, and Megan Smith, from 1994, took its impetus from the rolling and cascading images of surf. Danced to music by Counting Crows, the dance used the choreographic conventions of unison and canon to its advantage.

Knutson's "Koffee Klatch" was a humorous dance that dealt with caffeine-injected conversation among three women. Dennis Price's tender duet "Bibelot," for himself and Jennifer Bailey, was the only ballet on the program. Deborah Meyers' eulogy, "An Inch of Time, A Foot of Jade" skillfully blended film images of a lone man rowing a boat, alongside the dancing of Meyers and Duncan and the ubiquitous Alex Sidorowicz.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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