RUTH ROSENBERG DANCE ENSEMBLE.
The Ruth Rosenberg Dance Ensemble is the kind of troupe of which there must a hundred across the country: based in a school that trains the next generation of dancers, their concerts combine advanced students and professional performers. At their best they provide an intriguing look at whom we might look at in five years while offering choreographers an occasion to present work outside the glare of the purely professional limelight.
The Sacramento-based Rosenberg goes one step further. Her season regularly schedules out-of-town ensembles in what she calls Other Visions programs. At a time when touring opportunities for small ensembles have almost disappeared, the value of this opportunity to present themselves outside their home turf and for audiences to see dance created outside a familiar context cannot be overestimated.
Locomotion, the first of this year's three program series, got its title from the opening Long Way from Home, choreographed by Rosenberg for her students to original hoe-down music by Bill Edwards. The work evoked a no-doubt romanticized vision of train-riding hoboes. It was a piece, however, that pleased with its structural integrity and the straightforwardness of telling gestures and movements for young but well-trained dancers. Searching, the other Rosenberg premiere, also to commissioned music, by Carl Landa, was not quite so successful. Having to rely on movement only demands more ability and experience to phrase than these young performers have at this point in their dancing lives.
On a strictly professional level, Battle Suite, three small pieces (made between 1992 and 1997), presented choreography by Robert Battle, a dancer with the Parsons Dance Company. Most intriguing was the earliest, Jewel Lost, in which Rosenberg showed herself as a dancer of generosity and still-considerable command of the stage. She infused the large-scale portrait of a woman in torment with a groundedness and embracing gravitas that were impressive. The other two sections--Strange Humors, a duet by Jim Riley and Melinda Abi-Nader, and Takademe, by Rebecca Kosinski--were competently danced but were choreographically less convincing. Humors contrasted athletic and flailing movements as embodied by two different dancers while Takademe was a straightforward translation of Sheila Chandra's fulminating rhythms. An accomplishment for the dancer, it was fun to watch but as a piece it was a one-shot deal.
Rosenberg and co-artistic director Jim Riley, who also premiered a rather bland solo, Boy Blues, starred in another crowd pleaser, the 1991 Sweet Dreams by SF Bay Area choreographer Emma Lou Huckabay. Huckabay has made something of a reputation for herself for an inventive, movement-based sense of humor, much of whose effectiveness, not surprisingly, depends on a performer's ironic sense of timing. Riley, and even more so Rosenberg, clearly relished the portrayal of this couple in the aftermath of a sodden party, slushing their way through a series of overwrought Patsy Cline songs. She at first rode on his back and ended up with him in a roll in the hay. This couple was enough to make anyone swear off booze forever.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2000|
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