Dance Place, the alley loft between 18th Street NW and Columbia Road that sponsors the city's busiest modern dance series, presented its resident troupe this past weekend. The Perlo/Bloom Company focuses on choreography by Carla Perlo and music by drummer Steve Bloom and friends. Two things are unusual about this combination--live musicians and the difference in tradition of the movement and the sound.
The dancing is anchored in classical ballet technique, but the musicians work mostly in a jazz vein. What results is not conflict, nor is it a fiercely independent let's-pretend-the-other-doesn't-exist attitude of the Cunningham/Cage variety. Perlo's steps and Bloom's notes nod to each other in terms of the count or the mood, but it seems they never kiss. One wonders if they've ever tried.
Perlo knows how to show her dancers to advantage. Whether in the pastoral air of the new "Faces" for Harriet Williams, Sue Hannen and Cindy Peterson, or in her own sensual encounter with Phillip Baltazar as the attracted antagonists of "Views," or in the add-a-dancer game-playing of "In-Time," the values are clean line, firm balance and a dance pulse carried securely through to the end. The choreography meanders pleasantly. Fusions of modern muscularity or syncopation with the academic base are smooth.
Body analysis and some intensity were the features of Kathy O'Brien's "Maua," a solo performed by Perlo. "Tones," a second Perlo premier, alluded to tribal rituals and was a walked rather than danced piece for an expanded company. Bloom's score for it--a tintinnabulation of odd, barely audible timbres --seemed the most challenging music on the program.