Dancers' well-expressed rhythms

September 23, 1997|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Rhythm, a primal building-block of dance, linked the works of Eva Anderson Dancers' program this weekend at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The idea was laudable; the execution, if not quite up to the concept, at least good enough to see what the company can do.

Now entering its 23rd season, Anderson's Columbia-based troupe has a modern-dance style blended with African-American music, themes and designs.

"When Dudes Walk," for instance, is her salute to ragtime, the music that came from banjos, bordellos and dance halls -- all brought northward and fused into a new art by Southern blacks migrating from the former slave states in the years after the Civil War.

And the title "Kadija" is an African-sounding word that Anderson says she heard in the insistent score, as we sometimes hear almost-words in the sounds of trains or machinery.

The company has a gem in "Ictus," a work created by the pioneering black choreographer Rod Rodgers, who also composed and recorded its percussion score. Rodgers, 59, danced with Erick Hawkins' company, as one can see from the Zen spareness of this work. The title means "downbeat," and the dancers accentuate its rhythms with hardwood sticks.

But though the program was well-rehearsed and full of energy, it showed in every other way how much of a difference a little money could make. The lights were basic and bland. The knitted unitards for "Ictus" are losing their shape and should be

replaced. The recorded accompaniment to "Tear the Heart," by Brazilian choreographer Lourdes Bastos, turned the powerful "Choros No. 10" by Heitor Villa-Lobos into mush.

All the other accompaniments could have given much more support to the dancers had they been played live -- but live musicians cost more than the budget will bear.

"Tear the Heart" -- whose title comes from a poem by Catulo da Paixao Cearense -- suffered the most. A crescendo of movement and emotion celebrating the sensuous delights of Rio's carnival season, it needed lights and streamers and fireworks.

It got none of these, and the ecru brassiere tops of the women's costumes looked sad -- a letdown in every sense of the word -- next to the dazzling white lace skirts and bold red-and-white banner.

The company next performs April 19 at the Rouse Theater in Columbia.

Pub Date: 9/23/97

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