Appealing Choreography Seeks Firmer Skeleton. Object: Impact


Kim Whittam’s “Lucky Four” program—a quartet of loosely related pieces that refers to the age of her project-based pickup group—offers many obvious pleasures. First and foremost, the eight lithe, upbeat dancers look vastly at ease in movement that’s both slinky and bubbly, laced with the warmth and trust necessary to its contact improv tactics. Digital-projection backdrops provide landscapes rich in atmosphere (though one gets so overanimated, it threatens to become foreground). The costumes, whether vivid Vegas threads, austere postmodern uniforms, or pale, swirly leisure wear suggesting drifting clouds, all collaborate in making the viewer happy. Yet ingratiating though this mix is, long before the show’s halfway mark it becomes apparent that the choreography itself has no discernible shape or motor. Whittam’s press materials claim the work contains story, characters, and a theme of “chance and change.” With these elements firmed up, the results could be a knockout.

Selva’s work makes you wonder why you’re watching it

Based in Siena, Compagnia Danza Francesca Selva introduced itself to New York with two works. Just Walking—for the group’s two men and two women—plays out in regrettably foursquare patterns. The movement mixes everyday actions and simple gymnastics with a lot of technically pallid ballet and a dollop of modern dance. Clothes are shed and redonned, footgear changed (the woman who’s stunning in her skivvies is naturally awarded the stilettos), and the floor duly rolled upon. The piece looks like it wants to be “about” something—postmodern anomie, the vicissitudes of love, Tuscan traditions—but it never makes clear just what. XYZ, performed by the same quartet, is much the same, but dreamier—romance in a trance—until one of the guys becomes a threatening death figure on stilts. The canned musical accompaniment—Albéniz, Mozart, et al.—sounded like a kitchen sink garbage disposal on the fritz.