What with all the measured pacing, symbolic handling of stones, conceptual tasks and graph-making being done on so many stages these days, it's hard sometimes to remember what good, honest, active breath-taking dance looks like. Well, the Joyce Trisler Danscompany hasn't forgotten; their performance last night at the Terrace Theater offered up plenty of space-covering, resonant, goose-bump-inducing movement in a proud and fearless way.
Danscompany is something of a wonder. Their guiding light, Trisler, died suddenly last fall, leaving them artistic orphans. Rather than disbanding, the 10-member company has continued its work under the direction of Trisler protege Milton Myers, and the decision seems to have paid off. The dancers exude a confidence and joy that spill over into every gesture, every glance. Their technical gifts are immediately apparent, but it's their command of the finer things -- breath, buoyancy, phrasing, speed -- that makes them so special.
It's easy to understand why the members of Danscompany seem to revel in theirm mentor's creations. Trisler believed in fervor; she excelled at structure; she felt confortable with both the classical modern dance and ballet vocabularies. She took risks -- choreographing a post-Balanchine version of "Four Temperaments" and her own "Rite of Spring" -- and most important, she celebrated dance history.
Tradition and history played starring roles in last nigh's program. "Four Against the Gods" took a cool, impressionistic look at the founding sisters of early modern dance -- Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham. "The Spirit of Denishawn," Klarna Pinska's reconstruction of exercises and short works by St. Denis, her partner Ted Shawn and her disciple Humphrey, examined both the glories (St. Denis' music visualizations to Brahms and Liszt, Humphrey's "Soaring" for five women and one huge swatch of ballooning blue silk) and embarrassments (Shawn's stiff macho dances for Greek god and Japanese spear carrier) of that pioneering era.
As for Trisler's "Four Temperaments," it proved that Hindemith's great score can speak of clear emotional relationships as well as angles and lifts and leaps.
Danscompany performs today through Saturday at 7:30, with a Saturday matinee at 2.