The Greek and Egyptian rooms of the Metropolitan Museum of Art must be full these days -- not only with tourists and art historians, but with choreographers.
Those flat and stylized figures often discovered circling an urn or populating a frieze have recently been transformed into living, but very two-dimensional dancers by several well-known artists.
Martha Graham's "Frescoes," originally performed in a museum setting, presented the Antony and Cleopatra saga in a highly decorative, flattened manner.
Paul Taylor's "Profiles" examined just what the title says, while his "Le Sacre du Printemps" posed a stage full of comic-book-style detectives, molls, and jewel thieves moving in stiff, angular ways with their palms thrust out and their feet flexed.
And Tuesday night at Baltimore's Mechanic Theater, Eliot Feld revealed his ode to antiquity, "Circa."
As so many other Feld pieces, "Circa" is a structural gem. Performed to an aching, evolving Hindemith score, the work begins with the image of a man (Richard Fein) curled within the collective embrace of three nymphs. When the quartet unfurls, they move together, often in profile, always linked hand to hand or arm to leg, with the man pensive, and the nymphs acquiescent.
Then another foursome appears. This time it is a woman (Gloria Brisbin) in the center, uplifted, like some Venus de Milo by a trio of men in blue. She moves like a mermaid, flapping her arms like fins and holding her torso rigid. She allows the men to maneuver her legs into all sorts of complicated splits and poses. This group is a clean-cut unit, a moving statue, a human design.
In time, the troubled man and goddess meet, dance and relate. But it is the corps that keeps things rolling. They move in chains, surge around and about the couple.
If the dance seems a bit Balanchinian at times (the women's floppy wrists and off-balance hips can't be ignored; the opening calls to mind "Appolo"), the choreographer's exploratin of space and group interaction is distinctly his own.
Rounding out the program were the robust, Irish fest "A Footstep of "Air," and "The Consort," a work that begins with Renaissance restraint and ends in an orgy.