Outstanding poets almost danced away with the African American Choreographers Showcase at BAX. Curated by Christalyn Wright, it included collaborations with poets Pamela Sneed and Tish Benson and stand-alone pieces by Wright and Pene McCourty, all strong, visionary artists. Sneed, especially, has grown more incisive and funny through the years. Wright’s relatively short, oblique role in Landmarks—reflecting on the new, post-9-11 national order—skewed this piece toward Sneed. It became a surprisingly extended—and triumphant—reading. McCourty’s improvisation in Alfreda ably matched and supported Benson’s poem with its languid, erotic rhythms and increasingly crazy, migrating, dissolving phrases. Both women give words flesh: With dizzying shifts of energy, Benson terrifies in the realm of movement as well as speech. Unknown Matters, Wright’s uproarious tour de force about race and women’s body images, and McCourty’s Love (and other related) Songs demonstrated these dancers’ keen imaginative and expressive range.
Henning Rübsam’s Sensedance (Kitchen, February) was best represented by Brahms’s Double Concerto. A sporty contemporary ballet (though compromised by overwrought lifts resembling Olympic pairs skating), it boasts an exquisite male duet and a perky, folk-inflected third movement. Erika Pujic luxuriated in All the Things You Are, a romantic duet in which Rübsam allowed her to stretch out and breathe. Guest artist Eva Evdokimova danced a premiere, Litanei & Frühlingsglaube. Slinking steps, deep pliés, and spreading arms invoked corpse-strewn fields of war; bubbly, peppery footwork and buoyant extensions and turns sketched meadows bursting with flowers and songbirds. The End of Innocence, a new quintet, threw together some sleepers and some creepers, baleful lighting, and an aura of id-ish dreams. Performers seemed to hold conflicting ideas about the nature of their ferocious actions: child’s play? evildoing? It looked silly, but perhaps the distracting ambiguity was intentional.