Murray Spalding reminds me of the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she's good, she's very very good. The best dance on her program at Grace Church this weekened was "duet for Glass Harmonica," a so-so solo of several years back which she has revised this season into a stunning duet full of watery, undulating motions punctuated by sudden dives and lunges.
Spalding and Mary Giudici performed it like two mermailds or seahorses, and the mirroring and counterpoint between the two dancers bespoke a formal control and spatial awareness which hasn't always been evident in Spalding's work.
Elsewhere her work often seems burdened by a tendency to rely too much on pomp and posture without providing enough underlying substance or inventive movement to support the manner. In "Suite Solitaire," the other new piece on the program, Spalding kept striking gold and losing it again, letting interesting motifs glimmer and get away, failing to chisel out the spaces clearly enough. Many of the movement episodes were lovely, but one had the sense of watching a good dance through layers of interference and static.
"The Last Dance" mined some chilling effects from macabre costuming and a sound collage which began with the voice of Dee Kohanna keening "America" in the upper registers and shifting melismatically from one song to another through a chain of disturbing metamorphoses.