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ARTS & CULTURE

Choreographers enhance reputation

by Theodore Bale
Monday, January 13, 2003

Choreographers Group presents ``Six World Premieres'' at Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Saturday night.

If there is one reason why I keep returning to the wide-ranging programs offered by Choreographers Group at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, it's because I know that I'll witness something entirely unexpected at each performance. Of the 64 world premieres the ensemble has presented since 1996, there have been a significant number of successful works added to the Greater Boston collective repertory. Saturday's program certainly helped to increase that number.

The biggest surprise was Kelley Donovan's fiery ``No Such Thing as a True Story,'' a dynamic pageant performed by eight accomplished women, set to a mystifying recorded sound score by Brian King.

Donovan appeared intermittently in the piece, opening and closing it with a forceful solo performed on a diagonal line, and dressed in a magnificent shimmering silver costume by Sarah Chapman. Donovan is a highly charismatic performer, and you could feel the energy in the house augment suddenly whenever she appeared onstage. She's given her dancers challenging and vigorous material that succeeds because it develops a restricted set of movement ideas and its concomitant floor patterns, instead of continuing aimlessly without purpose. The company looked radiant, even a bit decadent, in Chapman's glittering lace costumes that recalled 1950s Hollywood.

Many of Nicola Hawkins' favored themes endure in her poignant duet ``The Empty Chair'' (inspired by a Van Eyck portrait), which was given an exacting performance by Julie Pike Edmond and Carey McKinley. Those themes are: psychological intimacy in female companionship, the kinetic and theatrical potential of luxuriant fabrics (in this case, black velvet and yards of gold chiffon), and the resolution of loss. Hawkins set the dance to a haunting score by Handel, a perfect choice.

Also captivating was Lillian Carter's ``With Clenched Teeth,'' a perplexing movement-based homage to Jean-Paul Sartre's ``The Flies.'' Thomas Bourne (who had the distinction of being the only male dancer to perform during the program) delivered Sartre's accusatory text in its original French, which was thrilling.

Margaux Skalecki's ``Rites of Passage'' needed greater organization, though the dance was saved by the joyousness of several young girls from the Brookline Music School. The first half of Perla Joy Furr's ``Timescape,'' performed in silence, is her most successful choreography to date. Here Furr demonstrates a clear talent for creating forceful movement free of the confines of musical structure, a thread she should continue to develop. Furr also offered ``Now and Then'' set to music by Michael Nyman and danced with confidence by her students.

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