Yuppies emerge from blocks of ice into a hell of other people in Daniel Ezralow's "Super Straight is coming down," a coldly tormented work given its local premiere by the Hubbard Street Dance Company Friday night in Royce Hall at UCLA.
With its flailing, near-catatonic role for a man whose four friends observe and ultimately share his breakdown--yet remain hollowly alienated from each other--and its booming, hissing score by Tom Willems, the piece has a strong kinship to William Forsythe's choreography.
The abrupt, harassed movement is reminiscent of "Love Songs," and the Dutch composer is one of Forsythe's current favorites. The imagery also vividly suggests artist Robert Longo's early '80s "Men in the Cities" series of life-size drawings of young, smartly dressed adults recoiling from unseen assailants.
But Ezralow has put his own manic stamp on the piece--the headlong barrel turns, the galumphing leaps, the desperate floor rolls--and has potently contrasted such excesses with moments of sullen stillness.
Performed (by Alberto Arias, Sandi Cooksey, Lynn Sheppard, Josef Patrick and Ron de Jesus as the man in the suit) with the company's extraordinary blend of all-out intensity and minute attention to the shape and speed of individual movements, the piece provided a welcome dramatic edge in a repertory devoted mostly to upbeat and novelty works.
The dancing was equally strong in Bill Cratty's "The Kitchen Table" (1988), which uses percussive, expressionistic movement and a clever skeletal table-cum-playpen (designed by Jack Neveaux) to breathe some life into the trapped-daughter-in-repressive-family genre and in Margo Sappington's "And Now This" (1988), a three-part dictionary of jazz moves set to a Leonard Bernstein potpourri.