Moving Arts Dance
Moving Arts Dance
July 3, 2002
Reviewed by Ann Murphy
When Moving Arts Dance performed for free, out where old ranchland meets new suburbs, it was a little like watching beautiful wildlife at a mall. The man in front of me didn’t seem to enjoy the contradiction?he covered his face in despair as long, birdlike ballerinas posed in side bends, then skittered away to make other geometric shapes in Charles Anderson’s lyrical Hush.
Perhaps, like many in the audience, he came to the Pavilion to see what a dance company might offer without charge (two contemporary dances of music visualization and one of agitprop fantasy). Or maybe he came for the spectacular pre-July 4 fireworks, including red-and-white explosions across the stage, followed by starbursts in the night sky behind the vast arena. In either case, Moving Arts’s strategy of drawing audiences through free performances worked on the most basic level: People stayed to see the whole show, even the guy with his head in his hands.
In Hush the dancers were balletic and carefully fluid, mirroring the lush, darting shape of the music sung by Bobby McFerrin in his collaboration (Hush) with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Dancers often came in pairs and quartets, turning in at the knee to echo Balanchine, flicking a hand and recalling Taylor. Though charming and inoffensive, it was also literal minded. As a Canadian critic noted eighty years ago, in even the prettiest music visualization, individual dancers tend to mirror the melodic line while the corps punches every downbeat, shapes every rest, and translates every sustained sound into poses. Why bother to see a superficial translation of the music when you can close your eyes and hear it deeply?
The medley Psychedelic Six Pack, by former Taylor dancer Patrick Corbin, had more punch. Its sturdier dance logic drew on a slightly less literal translation of the sound, occasionally going for the grit behind it, as when three young women on pointe knocked out échappé-soussus while Grace Slick howled “White Rabbit.” But Corbin’s music selections, from the Beatles to Hendrix and Pink Floyd, epitomized what was raw and unsentimental thirty years ago. Nowadays these rock tunes offer unthreatening memories of the once seditious to the bourgeoisie. Set to familiar pop ballet steps, Six Pack barely foamed.
Still, Hush and Six Pack, with a cast of adroit dancers, were entertaining glosses for a new audience. By contrast, Anandha Ray’s Temporal Landscapes, about nonbiodegradable waste (symbolized by mountains of Styrofoam cups), and magical creatures threatened by human refuse, resembled an exercise in an improv class. This was literalism without even a score to mimic. Luckily, the silliness dissolved when the rockets’ red-and-white blare started bursting thrillingly close to all those cups.