How Greg Reynolds could persuade adults to perform the movements they do is but one of the mysteries of his "Handel Dances," which the Greg Reynolds Dance Quintet presented this past week at Georgetown's Trinity Theatre. How he expected audiences to sit through two hours of dancers' hopping, skipping, waving arms and wiggling fingers, and pay $10 for the privilege, is another.
Taking its text from Milton and the evening news, this work to taped selections from Handel's "Messiah" looked like a heavy-handed parody of the grim-faced, earnest but technically innocent modern dancer of the 1930s. To depict the "Fall," two women, one called the Brilliant Evening Star and the other the Bright Morning Star, after much arm waving stepped on each other's feet. What any of this had to do with "Paradise Lost," "Messiah" or any of the poetry (by Swinburne, Whitman and Lawrence) intoned with affected inaudibility by Reynolds himself swathed in a black cloak with a knee-length hood is yet another puzzle.
There were, of course, children. They played corpses. (Offered to the Universe Mother Spirit.) The children were resurrected in the penultimate scene and ran across the stage as the choir sang, "They shall be raised incorruptible." And incorruptible they were. Saturday night, one little girl in particular, arms flung tragically back, agony etched on her face, caught the pretentious spirit of the evening perfectly.