After the party free-for-all, the evening settled down into a more coherent dance-theatrical piece. The mice's advance guard spread a tablecloth on the floor of the living room and had themselves a picnic. Their uniform, and that of their reinforcements, included pink sneakers. The opposing soldiers, all girls, wore pointe shoes and boxing gloves.

When the rodents have been dispatched and Drosselmeyer changes the nutcracker into the Nutcracker Prince (Davide Vittorino), the snow starts falling and the dancing starts in earnest. BalletRox company members, supplemented by guest dancers, performed the snow scene and the divertissements of the second act with good ensemble style. Some numbers in the divertissement (Russian, Spanish, and Candy Canes) looked reasonably faithful to the traditional choreography. Others, like the jazzy Sugar Plum (Elizabeth Mochizuki) and the seven tap-dancing "shoe urchins," made sense despite veering wildly off the classical track.

Former Boston choreographer Beth Soll, now based in New York, returned with her company to give two concerts of new work last weekend at the Dance Complex. Her two opening solos seemed linked in theme, though they looked different. I always think that Soll's choreography is hinting at another, more important text that we can't see. In Disclosure, she walked deliberately through the space, making very clear and specific gestures that had no follow-through. It was as if she had only to indicate a move for it to be understood. The moves themselves, full of rhythmic and spatial variety, subtle or surprising, were never literal, but somehow I got the idea she was dancing about preparing to dance.

She changed her blue satin skirt and black velvet top for a plain jumpsuit in Tribute, but the moves were again fragmentary, telegraphic. From time to time, she muttered phrases in English, German, French, Italian. She might have been running a rehearsal, demonstrating, coaxing, exhorting a roomful of invisible dancers. Finally, she walked out sideways, one step at a time, applauding without touching her hands together.

Restless Geometry was inspired by 18th-century French gardens and the behavior we're told went on there among the cultured aristocrats. Six dancers interrupted their formal, quasi-Baroque dance figures to conduct sly whisperings, seductions, and spiteful games. Manuel Sandridge played a green-clad Creature of the Garden who leaped among them, sometimes their playmate, sometimes an intruder.

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Related: Photos: The Slutcracker 2010, The articulate melodic eloquence of Bill Frisell, Outer moves, inner beauty: Looking back on the year in Boston dance, More more >
  Topics: Dance , Nutcracker, Beth Soll, Tony Williams,  More more >
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