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Molissa Fenley.

As an interpreter, Molissa Fenley often doesn't do her own choreography full justice. She creates dances with strong romantic roots and then expresses them coolly, even dispassionately. This puzzling contradiction in her style became even more apparent when New York City Ballet principal Peter Boal was invited to perform one of the three works comprising Fenley's current output.

Called Pola'a, it was created to three lushly orchestrated pieces by Lou Harrison. Because Boal gave each dance phrase its full value, he was never engulfed by the density of the music. Instead, he wore it like a cloak of many colors. When he spread his arms, the gesture was full of emotion, and yet he never merely emoted. When he ventured into space, the journey was heroic; an because he played imaginatively with accents, each shape within the choreography had its own individuality, at the same time building to a distinctive whole. The result was moving, yet modesdy respectful of the choreographer's intent.

Fenley also invited Paz Tanjuaquio to dance four performances of Sita, to several of Philip Glass's Etudes for Piano. The delicacy of Tanjuaquio's presence and her natural lightness gradually ebbed toward blandness. When Fenley danced the same solo, her declarative approach had more backbone, but the dance seemed to call for more shading than she saw fit to give.

Most ambitious in form was the three-part solo called Trace, a premiere. It resembled an extended statement snipped into three segments. For the first, also called "Trace," composer Jonathan Hart Makwaia accompanied himself on the piano as he sang, intoned, and shouted exuberantly, even feverishly. Fenley's busy arms seemed at first to reflect his fervor, but after a while the gestures became objective, as though she were watching herself draw designs in the air.

"Reflection," the next part, was danced in silence. A sea-like painting by Roy Fowler stood to one side upstage while Fenley danced nearby in thoughtful terre-a-terre fashion. For the third segment, called "Afterimage," actress Jane Smith recited the verse of John Jesurun. I found it hard to absorb the imagery so quickly. (Printing the words in the program would have helped.) Fenley did not respond any differently to the poetry than she did to the painting or the vocal fireworks. And yet Trace had magic and a certain elegance. A richer interpretation on her part would have given it wing.
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Title Annotation:Joyce Theater, New York, New York
Author:Hering, Doris
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:May 1, 1997
Previous Article:Jazz Tap Ensemble.
Next Article:New York City Ballet.

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