It's not often one is treated to a spirited black comedy bursting with fresh, fluid dancing and an athletic, metaphysical spectacle on the same bill, but such was the case Friday night at Occidental College's Keck Theater. Two disparate but equally intriguing works--Michael Mizerany's premiere, "Bound," and "Triptych," by Stephanie Gilliland Dance Company--were each flawlessly performed and hyper-alive.
Ripping his narrative from tabloids--lust, dismemberment, greed--Mizerany, a dancer with Loretta Livingston, has fashioned a 30-minute slice-of-sick-life. A satiric love triangle, "Bound" features the irresistible Madeline Soglin (also a Livingston dancer), Roger Gonzalez Hibner and Mizerany as partners in crime.
Set to an ambient score by John Ballinger, replete with sound effects and malignant laughter, Mizerany's loopy text, narrated by Ballinger, details the trio's gory machinations. Bad plots aside, the dancing was daring and delectable: Filled with sculptural poses, sturdy one-arm lifts of Soglin by both men, a face-slapping tango between Soglin and Gonzalez Hibner, and Mizerany's signature neck-stand contortions, the dancers generated an edgy heat.
Gilliland, whose company redefines the word "gravity," presented the collectively choreographed "Triptych," a triumphant display of beauty and balance, accompanied by onstage musician Eli Nelson.
In the first movement, "Talus," Gilliland and William Schurmann were paired in a circle of light. As if suspended, Gilliland, topless, was supported by Schurmann, and she flowed over, under and around her partner in an aerial embrace, a dance of seamless magnificence.
"Souliers De Plomb" featured dancers Caroline Arne, Cristy Candler, Vince Hederman, Holly Johnston, Bryan Walk and Schurmann in an extravaganza of leaps, diving bodies and one-armed cartwheels. Responding to Nelson's percussive noodling, the dancers formed geometric groupings, unison and spread-arm formations.
Gilliland rejoined the troupe for "Epilogue," a series of mystical moves akin to tai chi, enhanced by the throaty drones of Nelson. Like a flower opening, this suite, and the evening, unfolded with mysterious grace.