So many current trends slip into Claudia Murphey's dances it is a wonder that her work leaves a distinct impression. For her new program in Fairfax, at George Mason University's Harris Theatre, Murphey uses mixed media, minimalist, modular anunique effect is both cute and cruel.
The mixed media aspects are supplied by Walter Kravitz's visuals and Teddy Klaus' sound space. Murphey, Kravitz and Klaus complement each other best in "Floor Dancing." The stagescape in this piece is permeated by small, delicate forms (strings of them, suspended from above). They undulate like a swarm of sea creatures over the performers and seem attuned to the tinkling, splashing sound that issues from different parts of the theater. The choreography clings to the floor. Much of the time, the dancers are prone. Even when standing, though, their feet drive down into the boards as if the underground were the only place of escape from the myriad floating forms.
Murphey limits herself to movement from games and sports. In both "Floor Dancing" and the less atmospheric "Signals" she alternates short sequences of action and moments of pose. This regularity of flow and freeze becomes excessive. The cute and cruel aspects of her work show especially in sexual relationships. Dave Esguerra and Lori Cope, in the duet of "Signals," are two joggers who deliberately engage in a teasing game. Esguerra, however, is the only male performer in the company, and though "Floor Dancing" is an ensemble work, his role is special. He is costumed more provocatively than the others and his high spirits are not merged into the esprit de corps. It seems as if he's being flirted with.
The program will be repeated tonight and tomorrow night.