Linda Gold has reached a plateau in her career where she not only makes dancing look easy, she makes it look negligible.
Director of dance at Santa Monica College, this choreographer/soloist does not so much perform as demonstrate. We see her highlight the movement ideas and contrasts in a piece, but she doesn't make them matter.
At the Japan America Theatre on Saturday, she smoothly, weightlessly, effortlessly rolled across the floor and up onto her feet in her "Space, Time and Beyond" (to the "Tibetan Bells" recording). No strain, no sweat. And, in her "Serpens" she resourcefully explored every kind of turning motion from tiny wrist-curls to bold spinning jumps: an inventive reflection of the accompaniment, florid vocal music music by Cavalli, Pergolesi and Durante.
In "Morning Light" (to a piano score by Ellen Sinatra,), Gold's mastery of hand-motion showed how graceful and expansive actions can suddenly evolve into quick, constricted and intense ones. And in "Miroiter" (to a Ravi Shanker recording), she toyed with rhythms and motifs from India, sometimes seeming to re-conceive from a modern-dance perspective the conventions of classic Hindu dance forms.
However, the towering emotional scale of Muriel Jaer's "To the Sea" (danced to a text by Sri Aurobindo) swamped Gold's adroit but passionless dancing. And though she expertly delivered the big legwork and witty gestural detail of Branislav Tomich's "Zone" (to rock music by Lene Lovich), she lacked the force she once brought to this solo.
Gold's program featured lush, dramatic lighting by Doris Einstein Siegel and live accompaniments to several dances, including soprano Dale Wendel and pianist Hiram Titus in "Serpens" and Wendel and Derf Reklaw in "To the Sea."
But Gold doesn't really belong in the theater; she's a studio dancer. Tasteful, accomplished but insular, she reveals no need for the stage, no interest in catharsis or even projection. She can dance nearly anything, but, alas, she turns nearly everything into etudes.