Are economic woes or just a lack of inspiration responsible for the four flawed solos in this spring’s “Fresh Tracks” six-item bill? Of the lot, only Michael Cecconi’s challenging duet with Stephanie Liapis genuinely succeeds; Omar Rahim’s ambitious group dance still needs work.
The sound designs, uniformly intriguing, in some cases trump the movement. But the plethora of solos gets old. Heather Harrington’s Locked Doors, to Cam Millar’s collage of crashing waves and other natural sounds, is pretty, but similar dances abound on college stages; its level affect may be attributed to the fact that in her other life Harrington’s a figure skater. Christine Doempke’s Duet for One, to Otis Redding and a garbled soundtrack pulled from an answering machine, may be one of those pieces inspired by a breakup (the guy on the machine tells her how he wants her to feel, always a bad sign). Her strong, dignified presence exudes a sense of loss, but she’s oddly lit, and there’s as much static in the choreography as on the tape.
Braver is Paola Ruby Weintraub’s Spot and Circle. In black jeans and a patterned shirt, she exhales. She eyeballs us. She hums. She shakes her body so hard that her pants start to slip. She stands still, rotates her hips, casts shadows. She counts out loud; narrow beams of light slash the stage. She jumps. The lights go down. She keeps jumping. What you see is what you get, and I don’t get it, but I’d certainly have another look at this nervy artist’s work.
Monica Bill Barnes wears a tiara and projects the assurance of a punk odalisque in Once I Was in a Beauty Contest, but My Strap Broke. The throwaway solo to Beatles tunes shows me her strong technical base but not why she’d go public with these scraps of movement. I Still Arrive, Rahim’s trio for dancers in drawstring pants and running shoes to wonderful live music by Tristra Newyear, Habiba Noor, and Elya Temkin, also seems to be a rough draft; it periodically stops dead for no dramatic purpose, and the dancers (Rahim, Shaneca Adams, and Leigh Garrett) are unfocused. Nevertheless, the crowd roared approval.
As a former “Fresh Tracks” panelist, I feel for this year’s team if these works were the keepers. Worth the price of admission, though, is Cecconi’s angular, alienated the secret life of contradictions, in which he and Liapis, bathed by composer Julia Wolfe’s aggressive Lick, propel themselves through the space on bended knees, rolling and tumbling, their bare bellies peeking out of half-buttoned shirts, indecipherable syllables dripping from their lips. Look for more of his work at Symphony Space next month.