American Dance Festival’s “5 X 5” program easily serves as sampler for the modern dance neophyte. Five works by five choreographers highlight the beauty of bodies in motion and the drama of personal relationships, along with contemporary subject matter for humorous and thought-provoking effect.
Brian Brooks’ “Torrent” demonstrates the pure joy and fluidity of dance, his eight performers whirling and floating like leaves in the wind. To a re-composed version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” by Max Richter, the dancers are in constant flux, gracefully combining in sudden groupings that quickly morph into others and then evaporate.
Dafi Altabeb’s “Never The Less” proves modern dance can be emotionally gripping. Olivia Court Mesa and Yochai Ginton need no words to reveal a couple in conflict over their intense sexual relationship. They work through hurt, anger and rejection while still uncontrollably attracted. This spellbinding pair skillfully executes Altabeb’s strenuous, angular movements and subtly layered expressions.
Rosie Herrera’s “Carne Viva” expands upon the dark nature of sexual relationships. A man holds a woman high, his arms straining until he must bring her down, gripping her tightly until he regains the strength to hold her up again. Two women have a rough, shoving battle, only to desperately cling together before starting another round. A woman sensually undresses for her laptop camera; another shakes and cries as a man sings of his undying love. Some sections need more substance to sustain them but all demand attention.
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To describe Gabrielle Revlock’s “Halo” as a woman with a hula-hoop doesn’t convey the mesmerizing effect she creates. Clad in silky white, she manipulates the bronze-colored hoop in various positions on her body, sometimes walking and leaping, sometimes lying on the floor. Jacob Mitas’ haunting music and David Ferri’s otherworldly lighting support Revlock’s inventive variations, including her frightened realization that she’s trapped in the hoop’s power.
Mark Dendy’s excerpt from “Dystopian Distractions!” enters the realm of dance theater. Sporting a general’s uniform and wearing a gas mask, Dendy sits on a chair, employing sign language and extravagant gestures to illustrate a recording of Donald Rumsfeld recounting his meeting with Elvis Presley. The juxtaposition of these absurd elements is hilarious but also disturbing.
Newbies should be entertained by these pieces; long-time fans should glory in the intriguing details and impressive performances.
What: “5 X 5,” presented by the American Dance Festival
Where: Reynolds Industries Theater, Bryan Center, Duke University, 125 Science Drive
When: 8 p.m. June 29-30
Info: 919-684- 4444 or americandancefestival.org