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Fluidity of form from Perez

Special to The Times

Time may stop for no man, but it seems to have slowed for veteran choreographer Rudy Perez. Celebrating a quarter-century of dance making in Los Angeles (a co-founder of New York’s Judson Theater Dance Workshop, his career spans five decades), Perez still commands attention with his acute insight into bodies moving through space.

His premiere, “Shifts: Lingering in Spaces with Past Happiness,” seen over the weekend at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts, continued Perez’s successful foray into site-specific work.

Making fluid use of the armory’s mezzanine, studio and gallery, the five-part, 55-minute piece was also a reconstruction of past Perez works juxtaposed with the 74-year-old master’s latest choreographic ideas. Set to an assemblage of old and new pulsating scores by composers and long-time collaborators, Lloyd Rodgers and Steve Moshier, as well as text written and performed by Jacki Apple (another Perez collaborator), “Shifts” suggests themes of isolation, coupling and, best of all, unadulterated hope.

The audience, assembled on the mezzanine, first glimpsed the dancers there, but only upper torsos were visible. Working with red chairs, the ensemble -- Anne Grimaldo, Jeffrey Grimaldo, Tamsin Carlson and Stefan Fabry, clad in black, sneakers included -- was a Mondrian painting come to life. Spare, concise moves -- leaning in pairs, rocking on heels -- permeated as Apple read lines such as, “All flights to Baghdad are canceled.”

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Descending (with chairs) to the gallery, where the dancers were surrounded by big, bright children’s paintings, they took turns spinning, hopping and lunging -- bodies in counterpoint. Guest artist and former Perez dancer Karen Goodman then appeared, performing a luminous, butoh-like solo. Looking down on the dancers added another dimension as the group shifted yet again, to the pristine, empty-walled gallery.

Here they were like billiard balls ricocheting from wall to wall as a techno-beat emerged, only to lie prone on the floor -- snow angels sans snow.

Apple again spoke -- of “stars in the night” -- as smiles bloomed on the dancers’ faces during powerful arabesques and partnering. Returning to the mezzanine, this stellar quintet concluded by standing on chairs, their upraised arms framing beatific faces: an inspiration.


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