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Variations On Power

At Theatre Project Through May 18

By Ruth Reader | Posted 5/14/2008

The Collective

Open Marley Night, an informal night of dance

8 p.m. May 17 at Experimental Movement Concepts

Two dance companies participate in Variations on Power, the first time Run of the Mill Theater has invited a movement company to join its Variations project. Think! Dance Company of Gambrills and Baltimore's the Collective contribute three performances each, accompanied by a statement of power. While most of the concepts were well constructed, both companies at times failed to pair their statements with powerful movement.

Think! opened the show with "Stairs." The piece touched on the power of unfinished business, or conversations and plans left open and unattended. The company used a slide show of family portraits taken on stairs to link the small set of stairs onstage in the opening dance series. The choreography for this piece was fluid, using catch and release movements where dancers sustain momentum before falling or dropping, but the movement lacked power. Fluid or quiet movement doesn't translate to lazy or soft movement. The dancers moved more in a dream state, and even in their more playful movements the dancers still lacked the power their statements discussed.

The Collective followed the first act with "The Continual Stance," a literal representation of a woman in power. The choreographer had one dancer stand on a podium stage left, making powerful gestures with her hands; she looked as if she was making carefully crafted promises to a crowd. Slightly behind her and to her right was a throng of dancers at times supporting her, hanging on her every movement, and at other times skeptical or disapproving of the female politician. The dance was well executed in strength of movement. The dancers moved forcefully, still using circular fluid movements. However, the dancer slipped up at times was with timing; the group was occasionally out of sync, which takes away from the piece's strength. Eight dancers moving in sync, together as one unit, is itself a statement of power. When one dancer is off, it detracts from the whole statement.

That said, both companies did show some good work. Think!'s "Comfort Zone" focused on a womanly soloist whose movements were captivating. The performance focused on the choices we make as both empowering and power-draining. The movements in this piece were engaging and emotional.

Similarly, the Collective showed its strengths in its final performance "Ze Moxy Baloop." The choreography was fast, funky, and energetic, and said more about power than all of the other pieces combined. With a few hip twitches and body rolls the movement talked about sexual power; then as two dancers met in a face-off, the conversation moved to a discussion on the power of competition, and the dancers were really invested in their movements. The women rarely missed a beat in this dance, and its was the hardest cadence to maintain. ()

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The Corporeal World (8/26/2009)
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