Being a purist, choreographer Christopher Caines insists upon performing to live music. This is fortunate, since the music—from the lush-voiced soprano Veronica Burke and the mettlesome pianist Marija Ilic—was the only gratifying element in the “Music and Dance” concert (Construction Company, November) that featured Caines’s latest work, Snow. (Sharing the program were Rachel Cohen and Rajika Puri, whose choreography I haven’t the space or heart to describe.) Set to Janacek’s moody “In the Mist,” Snow is a chamber dance for two men (mentor-and-protégé lovers, perhaps) and a pair of women who waft around them. Though it harks back to the modest scale and subtle emotional range of early ballets by Tudor and Ashton, Caines achieves nothing like the dramatic power of these models. And the movement he designs, while emphasizing exquisite delicacy in the hands and precision in the feet, fails to animate the center of the body—a fatal flaw.
Straight Into the Eyes, presented by the Silesian Dance Theatre (the Kitchen, November), is a semi-abstract, high-energy sextet by Jacek Luminski, who founded the group—Poland’s first professional contemporary dance company—in 1991. Luminski’s choreography is ostensibly rooted in his extensive research into Polish folk tradition and Hasidic ecstatic rituals. His largely unintelligible program note dwells on the difficulty and importance of maintaining “relationships.” I didn’t see much connection to these resources or stated intentions on stage. What I saw was movement that capitalized on strength, fluidity, and speed. While I was willing to believe it implied urgency, bonding, and violence, I couldn’t discern a viable opposite mode; indications of tenderness were brief and weak, often merely wisps of pantomime. The now trite theatricalizing devices—video projections, a jungle gym set—didn’t help matters any, but the fresh, robust dancers were a joy.