Last night, the North Carolina-based New Performing Dance Company, whose members are Bruce Vrana, Lee Wenger and Ron Paul, filled the narrow Joy of Motion studio space with a diverse set of characters and atmospheres. The four works presented offered portraits of frenetic athletes, a sultry woman and chameleon-like clowns, most of them delivered with considerable intensity, and one with more than a touch of humor.
Vrana's two dances, "Unit" and "Boy/Girl," set up teeth-clenching relationships that remained unresolved, and made good use of two shivery scores by George Crumb. "Unit" establishes a literally "clinging" connection between a man with a strong back and a woman with a need for support and a penchant for twining suddenly about her partner like a vine. Midway through this overlong piece, a second man offers the woman a more serene, but equally supportive, alternative. Isolated characters inhabit the world of "Boy/Girl": a man who jogs and flails obsessively across, up and down the stage and a woman in pearls and green underwear who preens and stretches on a metal cart like a figure out of a Helmut Newton photograph.
Wenger's "Dances" had the trio in brightly colored face paint, gloves and blond wigs, moving daffily to three different jazz variations, pointing up the possibilities inherent in a simple set of gestures. And Paul's "Formation," set to a militaristic, Slavic-sounding score by Kundage Riisager, offered a diffuse look at what seemed to be an Olympic contender stuck in somewhat of a kinetic rut.