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DANCE REVIEW : Choreographers Spell It Out in ‘In the Works’ Series

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When choreographers are as articulate as Loretta Livingston and Wendy Rogers, the concept behind the “In the Works” series readily demonstrates its worth. These two opened the second season of the series this week at the Gascon Institute in the old Helms Bakery building in Culver City.

Sponsored by the Dance Gallery, “In the Works” gives choreographers a chance to talk about their work before offering samples to a public that later can ask them questions.

The results can be mixed. Sight lines can be blocked. Public questioning can turn out to be unprobing or, if time runs out as it did on this occasion Sunday, non-existent. Nor does a choreographer’s work always bear out her remarks.

Livingston said that she liked to “craft characters” and “make little worlds,” priming expectations of personality and interaction in two excerpts from her full-length “A Window in the Passage,” given its premiere in January at the Japan America Theatre.

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“The Arrival” began promisingly in these terms with isolated figures, eyes closed, exploring their private environments before waking to discover each other and the world around them.

But with the unfolding of the rambling “Elements,” the only individuality that emerged was the different movement styles in group and solo opportunities as the five dancers (her company minus Livingston) battled a stream of air from off-stage fans.

Far from creating characters, she gave us pure technicians, admirable and strong as her dancers are--and as she is.

Rogers said that she has tended to purge her dances of traditional compositional techniques and transitional materials to “put out a structure” which gives an audience “freedom to move within it.”

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Her five compacted, complex solos concentrated on abstract movements, restricted and repetitive in “Compass Dance 1,” fluid or architectural in “Transmissions.”

But what proved her point most about audiences filling in a structure was her performing a segment of “Three Strange Angels” twice, first to an ominous percussive score by Peter Garland, then to a sentimental Irish tune. The contrast in dark and light showed that people do “see what they hear.”

Hosted by Bella Lewitzky, the six-part series will continue March 17 with performance artist Tim Miller and the Aman Folk Ensemble.


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