Stylish is the word that comes to mind when it comes to choreographer Regina Klenjoski's production of "Original Sin," which was actually a seven-part essay on the famous Seven Deadly Sins. On Friday night at the James R. Armstrong Theatre in Torrance, excellent dancing and design elements strongly supported a piece that otherwise depended largely on familiar movement themes and one-note concepts for its evocation of sin.
Some of the "seven deadly" sections unfolded in an exaggerated, almost sketch-comedy style, complete with a kind of punch line. "Gluttony," which took place around a wonderfully baroque-modern table (one of the stunning sets by Shanan Brown), featured preening, prancing servants and masters, and lots of grabbing and licking of gold platters, culminating in a comic cannibalizing of the servants when food ran out. In "Greed," blue plastic balls were coveted, amassed and fought over like gold, until a golden ball was spotted and seemed to start the process over again.
Other segments also tended to center on the first movement qualities you might associate with the given sin, as if they came from workshops on the theme but were never developed further. Klenjoski often created interesting lifts and pictorial moments--the duet in "Sloth" and parts of "Lust" and "Envy" come to mind--but there was a powerful amount of heaving and hankering going on and on. Indulgence and evil, in dance terms, seemed always to involve rippling arms, slinky writhing, sensuous petting, caressing and leering--lots and lots of menacing leering.
Mark Fitchett's heavily synthesized score boldly underlined the few moods that prevailed over nearly two hours, without intermission, using lots of reiterated spooky percussion, eerie, drawn-out notes and some fuzzy rock guitar riffs for evil atmosphere. Mime Don McLeod appeared before each section to reiterate "Pride," for instance (carrying a mirror), or "Anger" (irate gesturing).
Brown's sets and costumes (by Denise Lichter) consistently established mood well and offered originality at every turn, even as the choreographic concepts played out less interestingly.
The Regina Klenjoski Dance Company's excellent dancers, in addition to Klenjoski herself, were Jeffrey Bulkley, Albertossy Espinoza, Marissa Labog, Cathy Manturuk, Iris Stanley and Milva Rinaldelli.