Dances came in pairs on the third "Dance Kaleidoscope" program at Cal State L.A. on Saturday: two contrasting tango partnerships, two equally dissimilar drum dances, two types of ballet showpieces, two satiric group works involving chairs.
In the Fred's House dance-drama "A False Jury and True Play" (created by Pip Abrigo, Clara Kirsner and Aarin Richard), a chair became the hot seat for a lively pantomime-cartoon of a demented legal system. In Rudy Perez's work-in-progress "Take 3," the manipulation of chairs served as the choreographic wild card in an ironic postmodern analysis of ballet.
Stripping corps de ballet rhetoric, the supported adagio and the bravura solo to their skeletal movement premises, Perez's simultaneously strange-and-familiar quartet also provided an accidental parody of another work on the program: the ballerina solo from David Allan's "Khachaturian" pas de deux. Efficiently executed by D'Arcy Boyer of Riverside Ballet Theatre, this brainless vehicle compiled 19th-Century cliches as if they were holy writ.
Fortunately, two borrowed William Forsythe solos (fragments, really) showed that ballet can be just as contemporary--and quirky--as Perez. These clips from "Vile Parody" and "Second Detail" also displayed the spectacular gifts of Desmond Hart, a disarmingly coltish former L.A. County High School of the Arts student who now dances with Forsythe's Frankfurt Ballet.
As with ballet, the double infusion of tango on Saturday highlighted wildly divergent approaches.
First came deadpan stylists Alberto Toledano and Loreen Arbus in perhaps the most unpredictable drop-dead footwork "Dance Kaleidoscope" has ever seen. Next, Miriam and Sandor in the Hollywood version of tango: lots of acrobatics, playacting and staging tricks, held together (just barely, sometimes) by impressive technical skill. Bandoneon master Co Co Trivisono brought additional distinction to the Miriam and Sandor performance.
The evening began with the delicate finger-drumming of Noga Chomut's "Desert," a portrait of the Israeli landscape filled with inventive, minimalist evocations of native work-tasks, dances, states of feeling. Alas, this octet grew less compelling as it became more conventionally choreographic--en route pushing Chomut's soloists to their limits.
The evening ended with Djimbe West African Drummers and Dancers in Leon L. Mobley's familiar adaptation of the traditional Gambian "Lengjen," a suite filled with happy surprises. Djimbe will return for the year's final "Kaleidoscope": a world-dance program at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday.