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Lewitzky Dance Company.

Long the senior eminence of West Coast modern dance, Bella Lewitzky is a sculptor of movement. Breath and momentum are secondary to evolving shapes in her dances. Our current, video-paced generation has to suppress its appetite for lightning-fast, athletic pyrotechnics to appreciate her elegant essays in physical form, which unfold at leisure, tied--sometimes too tightly--to the incessant rhythms of occasionally grating contemporary scores.

The two dances that opened the Joyce program, Lewitzky's first New York engagement in fifteen years, are departures from her usual choreographic signature. Meta 4, new this year, is a graciously jovial romp for two couples that's so slavishly "well made" it's predictable and so uncharacteristically adolescent it wears thin. And the 1982 Confines (the earliest work on view) comprises surprisingly literal depictions of spiritual, social, and physical confinement. Respectively, a sensual duet becomes a noisy tantrum, as a tenderly passionate couple turn wild, careering through clusters of bamboo wind chimes and setting them a-rattle; four female archetypes on a pedestal, sexual objects of male-powered culture, dance brooding pleas in vain for independence; nine human ciphers, who could be refugees, prisoners, or laborers, huddle rebelliously inside a grid of pylons, struggling for freedom.

Lewitzky's strongest works are dynamically serene, emotionally detached continuums of shapes, inspired explicitly or implicitly by sculpture. In Impressions #1 (1987) six women balance on each other's upthrust feet and hands or rotate slowly on their hips like statues on pedestals, posed in flesh-and-blood translations of Henry Moore's visions in metal and stone. (Overhead lighting, credited to Darlene Neel, exaggerates every bump and bulge of the ostensibly perfect bodies in nude unitards.) In Episode #4 (Turf) (1993) a male quartet affects combat, aggressively manipulating each other and the four wooden boxes on which they begin to move, like statuary come to life. They end perched atop one another in an excitingly precarious pyramid of sinew and wood.

One must admire the seventy-eight-year-old Lewitzky's meticulous craft, and the disciplined power of her ten attractive, well-trained dancers. Yet in the end the deliberateness of the carefully designed posing, shifting, and entwining of beautifully muscled bodies is apt to leave one craving the reckless spontaneity that distinguishes rambunctious postmodernism from the comparatively sedate, abstract modernism, of which Lewitzky is undoubtedly a master.
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Title Annotation:Joyce Theater, New York, New York
Author:Solomons, Gus
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:375
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