If you can get past the fact that the central pas de deux in Greg Reynolds' "Down Home" is danced by a woman dressed as a chicken and a man clad as a waiter from the waist up and a boxer down below, your eye may enjoy the gentle lifts and lovely line of the choreography. Actually since the section is titled "Turkey in the Straw" and the woman is wearing a red coxcomb, maybe she's supposed to be a rooster, which complicates things considerably.
"Down Home," a premiere of sorts (it is a revised version of a 1976 work) the Greg Reynolds Quintet presented this weekend at the Publick Playhouse, has two, or perhaps three, ideas too many. First, the four dancers, dressed as barefoot classical musicians, mime and dance as a string quartet. Then there are the fowl, a square dance and more musician imitiations. One wishes Reynolds had made up his mind which dance he wanted to make.
Several of his movement ideas work well -- particularly the notion of having the dancers' arms make bowing motions -- but "Down Home" is too much of a hodgepodge to be a good dance. It is typical of Reynolds' work generally. When he's not trying to be pretentious or witty and concentrates solely on choreography, his works -- or at least parts of them -- can be effective.
The final section of "Equinox," for example, is a quietly chilling ritual in which four women surround and awaken a central figure by their increasing incessant stamping. The "Full Moon Cantata" section of "Luminous Flux," when Reynolds stops niggling around with small, precious steps and lets his dancers cut loose in big, bounding movements, is a fresh breeze in an otherwise claustrophobic work.
"Luminous Flux," according to a program note, is supposed to represent "the continuous flow of energy as light," and here Reynolds' choreographic vision is impeded by his dancers' technique. Besides Reynolds himself, who has the balance of a stork, only Carmen Castaneda and Geoff Harrison are good technicians. Castaneda, who performed with a sprained ankle, is a short, chunky woman whose quick and limber movements and performing savvy were the dance high points of the evening.