Two pieces charged with kinetic energy and as new as tomorrow headlined the Repertory Dance Theatre's programs this past weekend - pure movement works that showed off the entire company's excellence of technique and powers of endurance in admirable context. These, coupled with solos by Bill T. Jones, made a fitting tribute to Arnie Zane's energy, wit and cheeky bravado.
Elisa Monte's "Pigs and Fishes" is indeed a stunning dance, a mesmeric creation that quickly climbed to its maximum stride and thereafter maintained unabated momentum to the end, producing in the dancears the sort of unison that comes from being swayed by some irresistible force.This piece has a sort of Middle Eastern exoticism, a dervish-like intensity that mounted on the clashing, repetitious rhythms of Glenn Branca's score, that produced two waves in the dancers - one that swayed their individual bodies vertically, the other that sent them undulating backward and forward across the stage, almost trancelike, as if not of their own volition. The seven dancers, led by Angela Banchero in solo, gave a totally engrossing account of this gripping dance, from a choreographer that has something powerful to say.
"Sacred Cow: lifting a calf every day 'til it becomes an ox," by Arnie Zane and Bill T. Jones, has grown since its premiere here in 1986, when it seemed splintered and even chaotic. Much more structure was evident; the contrast between the quick, darting movements by ones, twos, threes and ensemble, and the slow trips across the conveyor belt, was much more sharply focused. Indeed, it is a bright and vital dance adventure, marked by the eccentricities and the individualism that one cherished in Zane.
The high energy of "Sacred Cow" is somewhat haphazard, a sort of danse mechanique that with its bare black stage, erratic stairs, and whirring conveyor might have taken place inside a skewed power plant, or maybe on a fantasy set for "Star Wars." And Conlon Nancarrow's prepared piano with its hype, blues and jazz was just the right musical inspiration for its funky, quirky movement, and for the recurring jerky hand and arm movements that serve as unifying devices. The dancers seemed to be streetwise kids at play in a dance video, or mod versions of the mechanical dolls of "The Tales of Hoffmann," executing brilliant but emotionless antics.
Guest artist Bill T. Jones brought to the audience his special strength, emotion and vitality in two dance solos. The first, "Red Room," is a striking piece that he begins and ends prone on the floor, before a rippling red curtain. Music as insistent as a pounding surf supported a dance that showed his powerful physique, his awesome muscular control, and conveyed a sense of wonder, even fear, and finally resignation.
An untitled solo was a clear dedication to Zane - part dance, part speech, all farewell, climaxed by a quite wonderful interpretation of Berlioz' "Absence."
Completing the program was another premiere, "Special Delivery" by Beth Corning, a delightful, even wistful little duet, sophisticated, with comic touches, about communication and lack of it, danced in inimitable style by Linda C. Smith and Ron Fowler. The sentimental musical score by Europeans Wem Marten and William Sheller added a lyric flavor to this work.