Beth Soll began making dances a year after Valerie Anderson (1964-2004), to whom she dedicates her new Running/Mourning, was born. In this piece Soll appears as a kind of mentor or mother figure to a quartet of pleasant if not striking young women, the loveliest of whom emerges, belatedly, as prime protégée (and, perhaps, as the woman whose life was cut short). Running provides the choreographic matrix. Softly and tenderly, like practitioners of the Erick Hawkins style, the figures rush, singly, to the edges of the space. Finding no viable alternatives in flight, they turn back and cluster for comfort. Eventually the Chosen One becomes apparent, then appears to die, but the whole affair, being both vague in focus and dully repetitive, diffuses any impact it may aspire to. The dance remains steadfastly enigmatic without ever making itself compelling. Soll herself, though, is unforgettableas alert, quick, clear, and delicate as a lark.
Beth Soll & Company Merce Cunningham Studio
Out of the West come classical dancers who make ballet easy to watch
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet could never be accused of purveying art for art's sake. A 10-year-old chamber group directed by Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty, with roots cleverly sunk in two towns, it's obviously interested first and foremost in success. It appeals with easily accessible choreography, forcefully executed by dancers who are as bright and attractive as the imaginary people in ads selling you vacations. New York saw two obvious newish works, one hard-edged (by Nicholas Fonte), one ingratiating (by Trey McIntyre). The menu was improved by two golden oldies, Lar Lubovitch's Fandango (one of the more appealing responses to Ravel's Bolero) and Twyla Tharp's Sinatra Suite, which, alas, elicited only a two-dimensional performance from dancers inexperienced in rendering the subtle and complex. What I liked best about the troupe was the steadfast commitment to classicism that underpins the dancers' technique. This makes one hope, despite everything.