Exploring Dance From Another Coast and Another Century


Nancy McCaleb’s chamber-size, San Diego-based troupe boasts able dancers and thoughtfully conceived productions incorporating striking video backdrops. But judging from the two pieces shown in New York—The Impersonation of Mr. Peacock (Part 1—the Liar) and Verdigris— the choreography suffers from organization so neat and tight it paralyzes the imagination. In Peacock a thoughtful man taking an urban stroll joins four tense, severely garbed people who fall violently from their chairs. The balance of the piece enlarges on the ideas of loneliness, miscommunication, and catastrophe engendered by things that break because they refuse to bend. Verdigris, with its rainforest atmosphere, is mercifully more flowing, but stultifyingly monotonal, like Peacock, and secretive as to its intentions. McCaleb is intensely and admirably image-conscious, but more often than not, her pictorial effects fail to provide a pathway to eloquent feeling. Indeed, they frequently stifle the visceral dimension that is dancing’s very birthright.