It's hard to know what to make of the Ava/Teri Dancetheatre except possibly as a dance kindergarten for adults, where participants can put on makeup and five-and-dime costumes and wiggle around with glee and abandon.
The group gave the last of two weekends of performances last night at the Joy of Motion dance studio, where co-directors Michelle Ava and Robert Teri operate a thriving syllabus of classes and workshops. Whatever else one can say about Ava/Teri, it has its following -- the tiny but commodious studio was packed to the brim last night with volubly appreciative onlookers.
A press release states that the company consists of "professionals" as well as students. The printed program failed to indicate which were which, but the only reasonable candidates for professionalism among the 15 performers were Teri and guest artist Jack Guidone, who are passably slick dancers. The choreographic material however -- by Ava and Teri -- when it's not just nondescript eclecticism, tends toward cliche's of jazz dance strung together in the simpleminded routines typical of TV variety shows. Guidone, moreover, would display his facility to better advantage if he could wean himself from an addiction to pointless mugging.
For the record, the program consisted of these items: "NW by Five," a jazzy trifle on the theme of erotic flirtation; "Belly Dance," a cutesy-facetious and excruciatingly silly charade about the current, real-life pregnancy of Ava (dancing despite this); "Abongo," a pattern dance with stamped accents owing less to post-modern idioms than to cheerleading; "Am I in Miami," a chaotic "fantasy" involving a trio of monsters, a ballerina, and other stereotypical characters; and "Duke," a "tribute" to Ellington using shabby, pretend-forties tap and show dancing. As recreation, Ava/Teri may have its place, but there's nothing here to be taken seriously as dance, much less art.