Irrepressible wit and an eye for the incongruous put Cathy Paine's choreography in a precarious position. One of her pieces performed with perfect timing and emphatic dynamics can seem irreverent, inventive, even inspired. But let a little laxity show in the dancers' control, and the same work looks like an amateurish skit.
Saturday night at the Dance Place, Paine's "Yesterday" was trivial at first. Just past the midpoint into this danced diary of her moods and movement, the dancer-choreographer girded herself and the solo suddenly became beguiling.
Two works were premiered, "Hand-Me-Down Dances" and "Enters My." As in much of Paine's work, casual and formal motions are juxtaposed. There is less busyness, though, around the central action. "Dance" has a country classic lilt; distinctive in it are a walked solo and a duet with between-the-legs carrying. "Enters" juggles the roles of two women while voices intone an e.e. cummings' word scramble.
Bravura would benefit the new pieces. Among the performers, only Cathy Paine herself has a distinctive technique. When her clowning doesn't distract, one can see those high extensions being achieved easily and her long body line being tuned with finesse.