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Excursion Fare.

JUNE 2-7, 1998

It's always a pleasure to see dance performed with live music. Yet in several works presented during Manhattan Tap's June engagement, the percussion ensemble Crosspulse dominated the stage both visually and aurally. The dance troupe, now in its eleventh season, premiered Excursion Fare, a set of nineteen pieces set to a score by the San Francisco-based ensemble, for its debut at the Joyce Theater. The program, performed before a pastel-colored backdrop augmented by warm, intimate lighting design, was rich with solos, duets, trios, and group performances.

In "Bambu Beat," choreographed by artistic director Heather Cornell, Crosspulse's Keith Terry grooved onto center stage lightly tapping a quitiplas (bamboo stick). Setting the rhythm, Terry was followed, as in a drum fugue, by his bandmates, who, as the pulse swelled, seemed as though they were about to perform the dance themselves. Manhattan Tap members made their entrance and the piece grew into a joint endeavor. "Bambu Beat" was emblematic of the night's give-and-take between the two companies.

A quintet led by percussion impresario Terry, Crosspulse incorporated African, Cuban, Indonesian, Indian, and South American rhythms. Individually and as a group, their instrumental performances were of the highest caliber, even if their singing was, as in Miles Davis's "All Blues," sometimes weak. But Crosspulse seemed to have melded too many diverse styles into the pieces, making for a confusion of rhythms. At times, hearing Excursion Fare was like listening to a greatest-hits list of world beats. Set against Manhattan Tap's dancers and choreography, the result was often puzzling rather than pleasant.

Crosspulse excelled, however, in a flamenco number, `Joropeando,' danced by Olivia Rosenkrantz and choreographed by Cornell, and "Bootleg," a rollicking company piece. Terry's hambone slapping style, a technique in which he uses his body as a percussion instrument, was delightful. Other highlights included "Maraca Madness," performed by Jackeline Rago, and "Lamban Bali."

Ironically, what seemed to be the most casual piece of the program, "What's Up?," choreographed by Michael Minery, and performed by Minery, Parris Mann, Charon Aldredge, and Maria Bostwick, struck the best balance between the two companies. Devised as a street scene, Minery happened by a band playing on a stoop and was lured into a performance. "What's Up?" captured the spontaneity and "brushwork" often attributed to tap, not to mention the ease and glide of skilled professionals. Crosspulse, too, performed excellently, playing the role of supporter and laying the groove. Here, the two companies performed truly as one.
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Title Annotation:Joyce Theater, New York, NY
Author:Giordana, Kevin
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Oct 1, 1998
Words:410
Previous Article:Phildanco.
Next Article:National Ballet of China, Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Center, July 22-26, 1998.
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