When choreographer Michael Kasper first appeared in the cozy space at George Washington University's Building K Saturday night, it was clear that something gentle, sincere and blessedly unslick would soon transpire. This bearded, uncommonly natural performer, dressed in a bright yellow leotard emblazoned with a huge eggplant, deals with movement in an eminently heart-felt way, and soothes rather than provokes his audience.
Kasper, a GWU alumnus currently working in New York City, gets incredible mileage out of a limited, yet expressive, dance vocabulary of arcing arms, quiet turns, deep lunges and contemplative, quizzical pauses. Gaze and focus, approach and retreat are just as significant, maybe more so, than the technical feats. His musical choices -- silence, Roy Harris' 3rd Symphony, Puccini, Peter Cornelius' haunting songs -- conncet perfectly with the mostly slow, careful solos, duets and trios Kasper has created for himself and company members Stuart Pimsler, Susan Klein and Suzanne Costello.
Kasper's solos, the improvised "Rough Beach/Series III," and the stop-and-start, histrionic "Solo No. 1," varied in intensity, but shared a certain simplicity and economy of gesture. "Dance of Love and Death," the flashiest work on the program, had three people weaving about each other in a lush, intricate, involving style. Most beautiful of all was the new "Harris Duet," a dance that traces a relationship from wary beginnings through stages of trust and tempest.