Modern dance in Central Florida is still a little voice singing in the wind, hoping someone comes close enough to hear. Eric Yow's voice is fresh and clear, and if Friday's opening of his Yow Dance was sparsely attended, it is because not enough dance fans have yet heard the call.
Just a year after founding his Orlando troupe, Yow has an impressive repertory and a strikingly authoritative crew of dancers. Many have day jobs dancing in the theme parks, but their artists' hearts beat loudly in this non-profit endeavor.
In two premieres, Yow clearly makes music his muse: Willowisp's energy rises and falls with the rushing streams of melody in Brahms' Symphony No. 3. Eleven dancers in swishing dresses convey lightness and femininity: One begins a movement, two others pick it up, four join in. Returning often to a gesture with one arm outstretched and the opposite hand held before the mouth, the dancers seem engaged in an extended, animated conversation one that ranges, as the best girl talk does, from life's tales of tragedy to those of love and humor.
In Tabula Rasa, to Arvo Part's hypnotic post-modern strings and gongs, the dancers are magnetized to a spot lit circle that inspires awe and fear and maybe, finally, sacrifice. The choreography here is sharper-edged, a nice change in tone from Yow's more typical graciousness.
Two earlier Yow works, Compromising Raven and Empty, looked better than ever here. Raven benefits from this larger-staged setting and draws especially vivid performances from hummingbird-like Iriann Velazquez and powerhouse Cassa' Dean.
Empty is a poignant exploration of romantic relationships that underscores the highly social nature of Yow's choreography: These couples don't exist in vacuums, but are emerging from, and are drawn back into, relationships with others.
The program is a collaboration with Weberdance of Boston, which provides a nice counterpoint to Yow's lyricism with its spare, post-modern, sometimes pantomimic style. All but one of these works by Jody Weber has a voice-over narrative, and the most engaging of these is the solo, Vaunter, with Maggie Husak performing a witty, staccato dance to a reading of George Carlin's monologue "Modern Man."
But in each of Weber's pieces to spoken word, the narrative is at least as compelling as the dancing. Which makes one wonder: Why give yourself that competition?
What: Yow Dance!When: 8 p.m. Oct. 3 and 3 p.m. Oct. 4Where: Olympia High School Auditorium, 4301 S. Apopka Vineland Road, OrlandoHow much: $15 adults, $10 students, seniors and hospitalityCall: 407-341-1734
Diane Hubbard Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.