While a few of the works in Contemporary Dance IV (part of the Fourth Annual International Dance Festival) drowned in choreographic clichés, others inspired. Performing in a bright-red dress, Los Angeles–based Maria Gillespie expanded on and subverted both burlesque and contemporary technique. Her solo to Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schöen” and Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne #1” wittily played with conventions, following a jazzy hip-jut or sensuous leg extension with an unexpected arm snap or twist of her
torso. Elise Knudson’s company, Airelise, provided a sublime and technically innovative aerial dance tour of an imaginary jungle populated by wondrous creatures of all stripes in Critters. Lisa Marten and Jessica C. Warchal’s duet Just a Moment Please While the Operator Changes the Reel perfectly highlighted Scott Joplin’s “Fig Leaf Rag” in a clever, precisely choreographed tribute to Chaplin and vaudeville.