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Karen Young

'Watershed' misses its moment to commemorate civil rights

'Watershed' misses its moment to commemorate civil rights

Sometimes talent isn't enough — if it isn't the right kind of talent.

Choreographer Kyle Abraham has won "Bessie" and Jacob's Pillow awards, a MacArthur grant and commissions galore. But in attempting to evoke or commemorate the struggle for civil rights both here and in South Africa, his two-part epic "The Watershed" becomes, at best, a declaration of sensitivity, at worst a numbing theatrical experience.

At UCLA's Royce Hall on Thursday, his multiracial 10-member company, Abraham.In.Motion, faultlessly executed his style of postmodern abstraction — a style as comfortable with modern dance vocabularies as movement born on the street. And the...