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MUSIC AND DANCE REVIEWS : DESIO TROUPE AT THE JAPAN AMERICA

Times Dance Writer

Alfred Desio (a.k.a. “The Electric Tap Dancer”) and Louise Reichlin (a.k.a. Mrs. Desio) are dedicated, resourceful artists, but their company, Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers, reached something of a dead end Saturday at the Japan America Theatre: virtuous intentions without real artistic achievement.

This was an evening of newly commissioned but mostly stale or workshop-level choreography, weakly danced. Moreover, Desio’s recent obsession with electronically modifying tap-dance sonics left him looking out-to-lunch as a performer. Who wants to watch a proven tap virtuoso play technician when he delivers only feeble, spatially constricted step patterns?

Desio danced with some of his old dash and edge only without technological enhancement in his “Street Feet,” backed by 28 colleagues and students. But the flashiest tapping Saturday came from lanky Damon Winmon both here and in the off-the-wall “Dinah” solo, choreographed by Desio.

As for Reichlin, her penchant for catch-all modern dance suites--in which the deftly choreographed, random components cancel each other due to clashes of style--reached a new plateau of pointlessness in “No Story”: five miniatures (set to everything from commercial American rock to traditional Syrian folk music) with only their lack of narrative in common.

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Madonna Roberts’ brief “Mouth Full of Serial” solo broadly lampooned recent classical music and pompous recital demeanor through gestural reinforcement of her gurgling vocalism. Depicting career and emotional conflicts, Carolyn Dorfman’s “Evol Teud” (“Love Duet” backward) contrasted punchy jazz-modern cliches with lyric ballet-modern cliches.

L. Martina Young’s intriguing if inconclusive structured improvisation “Unending Tales” neatly juxtaposed tap and modern dance, music (by Desio) and speech, solo and group dancing but proved most compelling in an intense passage for Ruriko Sakumi--a passage that held all the remarkable vulnerability and power that Young herself can bring to her solo dancing.


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