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Donovan's dances are marvels of structure
Tonight: Fancy footwork
Balanchine b-day is feted in style
Questions drive DiMuro's residency
`Mekka' a not-to-be-missed work of redemption

Donovan's dances are marvels of structure
By Theodore Bale
Saturday, November 8, 2003

Alone on stage with no props and wearing a simple black costume, Kelley Donovan carves through space with striking determination. It's a baffling dance, but one thing is certain - this woman has a lot of talent.
     The solo, a premiere titled``Any Unraveling,'' was one of five pieces presented by Kelley Donovan and Dancers last night at Green Street Studios in Cambridge. A sort of movement episode without beginning or end, it demonstrates Donovan's ability to engage her audience without resorting to narrative, sentimentality, or predictable politics.
      How refreshing! Donovan is a movement purist, perhaps influenced by her studies with local choreographers Brian Crabtree and Daniel McCusker.
      She's gathered together an unusually committed group of young women to perform her work, all of whom display evident individuality within the ensemble.
      Donovan says her dances focus on spirituality and transformation, and the latter quality is especially prominent in``Conversation Out of Silence,'' an ensemble work arranged into three distinct sections set to a sound montage by Gregg Bendian.
      The opening is a set of phrases performed by three separate groups.
     In the second section, the women restate that material as an ensemble, and then the dance finishes with delightful chaos as all of the phrases mingle and co-exist.
      The piece recalls the essence of Graham's early``Primitive Mysteries,'' though Donovan's impetus here is the social dynamics of a Quaker meeting.
     ``Plunge'' (1997) was the oldest piece on the program, a quasi-ballet for six women manipulating red rubber toilet plungers. Humorous and inventive, the ironic use of a Strauss waltz makes it an elegant parody of plumbing emergencies, as confronted by clean-freak housewives.
     ``Things That Go Unsaid'' and the rousing finale ``No Such Thing As a True Story,'' both made this year, show Donovan moving toward a greater density and expressiveness.
      They are marvels of structure, proving that Donovan is clearly a choreographer to watch out for, and Mary McCarthy and Sarah Chapman's costumes give them a unique, edgy look.

( Kelley Donovan and Dancers in ``Things That Go Unsaid,'' at Green Street Studios, Cambridge. Final performance tonight. )

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