Dallas — When an invisible current is not pulling the dancers in Brian Brooks Moving Company, the dancers are hauling one another like planks, carving out space with boards, or, in one memorable solo, repeatedly slapping stiff arms in a paroxysm of fury.
But that hardly covers what transpired Friday night at the Dallas City Performance Hall, as the group made its North Texas debut courtesy of TITAS. There was something simple and compelling about just about every one of the five works, a harmony of music, movement and mood.
The program opened with Brian Brooks’ I’m Going to Explode. Mr. Brooks sits on a chair in silence, his body in profile. He leans over to take off his shoes, stands up to take off his jacket, and folds it neatly on the chair. And then he lets loose—or rather—does anything but let loose. He stands stiffly while originating movement with his shoulders and slapping straight arms hard to the side. He’s a man so emotionally boxed up that release is impossible.
The movement is extremely repetitious with only slight variations that grow larger and more expansive over time. That use of repetition and variations describes just about every work, whether as in MOTOR—where Matthew Albert and Mr. Brooks move close together doing nothing more than hopping, hopping, hopping on one leg, covering space, and switching to the other leg—or as in Torrent.
In Torrent, groups form and reform in vertical lines and straight lines, with one dancer breaking away, only to be replaced by another. They are smooth and limber, their bodies always at a tilt and arms curved. Set to Max Richter’s mix of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the dance surges and flows with the crescendo of the music.
Descent was a curious affair comprised of four sections with seemed to have little in common. It opens in dim light as one couple after another lugs a ramrod straight body across the floor, turns back, and disappears. The weight is heavy, an unwelcome burden. In the next section, long bands of light form three horizontal paths, illuminating ankles, shoulders and heads as the dancers move across the floor in a line. Weight takes a dramatic turn when high above gauzy fabric floats and billows, like puffs of cigarette smoke. It is dark below so all we can see are streamers wafting lazily above.
In Division, six dancers in white shorts and silk tops pull long boards across the stage, making a scratchy sound. But the boards come into play in many ways: they are flipped over, exchanged with another dancer, tilted at all angles. All the while dancers maneuver among them, dipping, sliding, spinning. It’s a study in space and pattern, compelling mainly for the ripple-like smoothness of the action.