RIRIE-WOODBURY DANCE COMPANY.
The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company celebrated its thirty-seventh season of presenting high-quality, innovative modern dance with a typical week in Bellingham, Washington. Accompanied by co-founders Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, the company concluded its four-day residency with a performance in the newly renovated Performing Arts Center Mainstage Theatre at Western Washington University.
Choreographer Laura Dean's Tenmile (1994) opened the program, danced by company members Juan Carlos Claudio, Javier De Cordoba, Aaron Draper, Christine Hasegawa, Tammy Metz Starr and Liberty Valentine. This relatively recent work by Dean begins with the exquisite dramatic image of grand plie en face by the cranberry red-clad dancers, then moves to full-out undercurves and overcurves of the torso and diagonal spinning. The spinning, which in the Dean piece sometimes had the appearance of irregular turns with a discernable one-two beat phrasing, was repeated later in the program in the frenetic whirling in Pascal Rioult's Wien.
Wien, set to Ravel's La Valse, opened with six dancers in street clothes who circled the stage and formed a huddle. This circling en masse at lightning-quick speed was performed with the dancers moving utterly in sync. The wildly different dynamics--the ultra-fast huddled spin juxtaposed with the dancers suspending in splayed positions, the quick, flat-footed steps alternating with serene, refined waltzing--were suggestive of a world out of kilter, perhaps a statement on the right-wing condition in Vienna today. Throughout the piece, the dancers executed the movement as Gumby-like figures being manipulated by wild outside forces. With the exception of the ending, a predictable mass collapse, this dance macabre is wildly inventive. It was danced with captivating unrestraint by these dancers and is a piece that could be seen and enjoyed many times over.
Night Story (1996), choreographed by Della Davidson, was a dramatization of some fictional characters and relations from Isabel Allende's The Stories of Eva Luna. It provided a good contrast to Cyrus Khambatta's light-hearted Modern Barbarism (1993), danced flawlessly by De Cordoba and Draper. This latter piece showcased an archetypal business-suited man and a barely clothed primal man. Mr. Business Man preened, adjusted his ties, and bared his teeth for dutiful self-inspection (perhaps eschewing introspection), while primal man assumed the same attire. In ritualized fighting the two men sparred, with primal man eventually dominating. This humorous, witty piece, danced perfectly in character throughout, was an audience favorite.
The program ended with Alwin Nikolais's ever-popular Tensile Involvement. The troupe, augmented to nine dancers with Bellingham dancers Andrew Anderson, Sarah Frewen and Kathy Pottratz, danced the piece masterfully amid (and with) enormous elastic bands. The dancers showed the great energy, attack and tremendous concentration that the piece requires. With the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, it was as fresh today as it was when it premiered forty years ago.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2000|
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