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Coyote Dancers.

In its New York debut Coyote Dancers gave little indication of a compelling artistic vision. Maher Benham, the company's artistic director and choreographer, does have ideas of what to dance about. Death, friendship, spiritually, the codependence of all living things--these were some of the lofty themes she chose to explore. In each dance, however, Benham, who teaches at the Martha Graham school, seemed unable to develop a sufficiently coherent vocabulary of movement with which to express her ideas. The repetition of simplistic phrases substituted for their development, and an unimaginative use of the stage nulified her dramatic intent. In her solo Devachan it was easiest to see how Benham constructed short phrases which culminated in accented poses, one right after the other.

Benham drew on the talents of guest artists Maxine Sherman and Steve Rooks, both former Graham dancers, for several of her works. Sherman danced with passionately sustained power in Emanating the Essence, a duet with Karen Kopf, purporting to depict the relationship between Martha Graham and photographer Barbara Morgan. Yet the redundant symmetry of the choregraphy signified a dead end rather than a catalystic meeting of talent. Rooks had some opportunity to display the clarity of his form as the Panther in The Dolphin, the Panther, the Wolf, and the Hummingbird, and he generously partnered the alluring Zhongmei Li in the sensational, acrobatic lifts that dominated Waltz Cavern Unto Light.

Also on the program was Antithesis, a pus de deux by Miriam Barbosa, that exaggerated angst, in the form of tortured falls and propulsive leaps, to comic proportions. Carlos Fittante's Madeleine, Elise et Juliette was an unfinished ballet, singular on this "modern" program, but, lyrically performed by Shelley Lynne Cummins, Robin Gilbert, and Kate Neils.
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Title Annotation:Marymount Manhattan Theatre, New York, New York
Author:Thom, Rose Anne
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Next Article:Mario Maya's Flamenco Dance Company.

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