Denton — When dancers show up wearing football-style facemasks, you know something is up. The opening work Friday night at the Dance Studio Theatre on the Texas Woman’s University campus, 2043: You was not the only oddball in a program that spanned a wide range of styles and subjects.
Big Rig Dance Collective brought together six local dance companies and five individual artists for a one-night show in its annual Dance Co-Op. Perhaps what was most unusual about the show was that five works involved Denton composers, and three were performed live.
YeaJean Choi’s 2043:You seemed to have something to do with aliens. Two dancers whose faces are completely hidden in metal facemasks seem to have found themselves on an unfamiliar planet, making tentative exploration and eyeing each other suspiciously. Set to Denton’s composer Matthew Peyton Dixon’s music of the same title, it was appealingly goofy but lost some of its bite when the masks came off.
Out On a Limb Dance Company’s Along Came Mrs. Alkali suggested, among other things, a body being dismantled and put back together. Choreographer and performer L. Brooke Schlecte stopped and started, stopped and started, sometimes lying on her back, sometimes upside down, sometimes doing a straight-leg leap with her body pitched forward. She finally makes it to the other end of the stage, turning her back to us. This was a very odd piece, but compelling. Ms. Schlecte’s manner is so distant and solemn that it drew you into her private universe.
The most straightforward work was Simple Sparrow Dance Company’s The Swell Season, set to hypnotic music with the same title and Olafur Arnalds’ “Fok.” Three dancers in long purple asymmetrical dresses cover space in large, flowing movement with balletic grace.
In A Little Sad, Ciceley Fullylove starts out slow and focused, and then enlarges her range of motion, all the time looking off into the far distance.
Whaling (from Domain) made you think of a National Geographic photographer out to catch that great shot of an exotic bird. That “bird” was Erica Gionfriddo (ARCOS Dance) —bald-headed, long-legged and clad in a silver plastic skirt bunched up at the back. She jerks her head around, perches on spread-out legs, twists her torso and skirts around the room. From far away Curtis Uhlemann aims his camera at his subject, eventually coming in closer and closer until he grabs her by the neck. It has a slightly erotic feel: he releases her and she continues her elegant stride.
The most interesting thing about Alex Cole’s Septima was not the large carpet that she unrolls, or how she confines her space to the carpet, or even how at the end she rolls herself inside the carpet, but Westin Portillo’s live composition. Tick-tick-ticks turn into loud and imposing sounds and then into growls and roars.
Although I reviewed imPULSE dance project’s Flatango two weeks ago, I completely missed the bird image. Those were flamingos, silly. Four women in filmy rose and grey slips swivel, prance, hop tiptoe fashion and bring their “wings” to their backs in bright, quick movements, carving out their own space but never moving far apart.
The sound of breaking glass, falling objects and grinding noises from far away stir three sleeping-heads from their slumber in choreographer and composer Jessica Murphy’s Inquietude. The noise only gets worse as each dancer spends a long time balancing on one leg, yoga fashion. At the end, a downpour of noise brings all three into a huddle. The noise was more interesting than the dance.
Also on the program was a lively Spinning Carousels (Collective Force Dance Company) and Laura Barbee’s thoughtful Sea, where Melissa Sheffer covers space unperturbed by the background noise created by Julien Villa.
Big Rig Dance Collective weighed in at the end with a work very much in the gestation stage: You Are Not My Enemy. Created the day before during an improv class, it was raw but promising. The music was a live composition by Brittany Padilla.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.