It's not surprising that choreographer Jennifer Muller calls her company The Works. She choreographs with a generous application of ideas and an inclusive spirit that wants to leave nothing out. Her New York-based company, concluding a two-week training workshop at the University of Maryland, performed last night at Tawes Theater, and each of the three pieces on the program offered something memorable.
"Tub," true to its name, offered a tub with real water, the halos of flying water extending the shape of the dancer's bodies and the arc of their movements in surprising and lovely ways. Although there were moments of humor (a dancer trying to navigate in flippers and a bundle of towels dropped from above like a deus ex machina), Muller avoided veering off into the thoroughly burlesque, and managed, instead, a strange blend of joyousness, humor, and romantic moodiness.
"Predicament for Five" offered interesting kinetic jokes, some old, some new: gender confusion; a lift-leap combination that never quite got off the floor; and a remarkable involuted solo for Christopher Pilafian in which he seemed to be winding back into himself while the tape ran backwards. "Speeds" played stillness against motion, tempo against tempo, and large against small.
The music Muller uses (Burt Alcantara's electronic collages for "Tubs" and "Speeds" and a jazz collage in "Predicament for Five") is music with minimal punctuation and a driving pulse, and the movement has a continual energy flow that parallels this. Muller uses broad, space-eating movements and sweeping sustained gestures, thrown torsos and off-center balances, but the smooth momentum is what ties it all together so curiously.
Some of the pieces tended to be overly long but the length seemed to go with the ambition and generosity that informs Muller's work.