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Steps . . . and more steps

By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  November 17, 2008

Friday and Saturday nights Boston-based BoSoma (for Boston Somatic) Dance Company gave a five-year retrospective concert at Boston University Dance Theater. This all-female group has two co-directors, Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper, who contributed alternating selections to the program. These dances, like the Boston Conservatory premieres, proved to be plotless expositions of movement. The musical selections were somewhat more diverse, ranging from American-Indian pop and East-Indian pop to Kodo drumming to jazz and rhythm and blues. But the curious thing was that the multicultural array of songs, poetry, and new-age music didn’t really rub off on the dances.

I have an impression of neatly trained modern dancers with their hair pulled back in neat, tight knots, showing neat movement combinations with lots of high leg extensions, whirling pivot turns, leaps and runs and lifts. The performers looked noncommittal, impersonal, even at times when the choreography implied friendship or community.

In Djelassi’s Boxed, the one piece that had some development from beginning to end, a woman crouched in a small rectangle of light while two others patrolled the perimeter. By degrees, as the patch of light got bigger, they exchanged places and moved out into space. Then two of the women left and the third crouched again in her shrunken cage of light.

BoSoma invited Boston jazz matriarch, teacher-choreographer Adrienne Hawkins, to make a new work for the company. Whoa-Man 360 used a collection of blues and affirmations by black women singers for a suite of playful dances in the style of the old Alvin Ailey character studies. These modern dancers looked out of their element in Hawkins’s sultry chair dances and hip-swinging, down-and-dirty chorus lines. Like the Boston Consevatory Steps in the Street, this piece betrayed how light and facile dancers’ training has become, how little they know of getting into the skin of some new persona, and how pale dance looks when it’s all done with styleless, guileless proficiency.

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Related: Year in Dance: Reusable histories & durable trends, Daniel Nagrin, From the inside, More more >
  Topics: Dance , Entertainment, Boston Conservatory, Boston Conservatory,  More more >
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