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DANCE REVIEW : A Little Bit of Everything at ‘Dance Kaleidoscope’

TIMES DANCE WRITER

“Dance Kaleidoscope ’94" said goodby to Cal State Los Angeles on Saturday with an eight-part program dominated by small successes. This annual showcase of Southland achievement resumes next weekend at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.

The two warmest, sweetest pieces on the bill used nostalgic vocal music as accompaniment. Rose Polsky’s duet, “Sing,” anchored vibrant, swirling, large-scale movement with sharply etched gestural details. Polsky herself made those details seem clues to thoughts and feelings that arose as she danced. But it was Carolyn Hall who made the mercurial choreography appear an utterly spontaneous self-portrait.

Set to antique Russian jazz, Betzi Roe’s “Dry Roses” gave six women from California Ballet a lush, classy showcase. Indeed, the individuality of the dancers proved no less invigorating than Roe’s bold movement juxtapositions: a Plisetskaya-style backbend leap followed by a saucy torso wiggle, for instance. Unfortunately, no personal stories emerged from all the artful interplay and, like so many Kaleido-choreographies this year, the piece inconclusively doubled back on itself.

Ka-Ron Lehman and Viji Prakash chose potent subjects for women’s pieces, but ended up relying on flamboyant technical display. Painful memories of child abuse in group therapy underpinned Lehman’s trio “Exposing the Wound: The Beginning of Healing,” and Melissa Stockton, in particular, sustained a volatile emotionalism while punching out Lehman’s showpiece steps. But the unyielding emphasis on virtuosity soon seemed more an exploitation of pain than an expression of it. Jessica Vallot and Carmen Chavez remained faultless.

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Prakash’s quartet “Nava-Rasa” (“The Nine Moods”) used the conventionalized gestures and facial motions of the South Indian classical idiom Bharata Natyam to convey fear, wonder, anger and other primal feelings. However, the misidentified members of her Shakti Dance Company couldn’t always make these emotional statements as distinctive or compelling as the splashy rhythmic footwork embellishing the piece.

Michael Mizerany’s “Tethered” and Russell Scott’s “Lest I Forget” each defined emotional dependency through gymnastics--and both had unsatisfying endings. Mizerany’s remarkable strength and versatility as a partner kept his duet with Madeline Soglin full of movement surprises right up to its odd conclusion. In contrast, Scott and Stanley Conte alternated lifting duties in their initially striking sculptural partnership, but the result looked increasingly dogged and ultimately directionless.

Dancing excerpts from Jose Limon’s 1971 “Dances for Isadora,” former Limon company member Bambi Anderson looked more persuasive in breezy lyricism than in epic tragedy.

Completing the program: Ferne Ackerman’s dynamic “Perseverance” for Pacific Dance Ensemble, previously reviewed in these pages.

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* “Dance Kaleidoscope,” Program D, John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., Hollywood, Saturday, 10 a.m.; Program E, Saturday, 8 p.m. $15, (213) 466-1767.


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