It's not often that one attends a dance concert and comes away with a stronger impression of the music than the movements. Yet that's exactly what happened at Thursday night's performance by the Dance Construction Company at the Marvin Center Theatre. Three very different scores -- Bob Boilen's synthesized science fiction, Bobby McFerrin's hilarious rapping and scatting, and Michael Willis' repetitive, pulsating "Music for Mallets, Woodwinds, Strings and Brass" -- left the dancing in the dust.
Why? Rhythm is the key. These musical offerings established clear, provocative rhythmic structures, but Maida Withers' choreography left one longing for accents, climaxes, flow and suspension. Despite all the complex goings on, through myriad entrances, exits, lunges and lifts, all four of the dances shared a troubling monotony and languor.
There were other problems. Both new works -- the lighthearted "Scat" and the deadly serious "State of the Art" -- suffered from a paucity of movement invention. "Scat," set to McFerrin's unhinged, be-bopping vocalizations, featured one man and two women decked out in daffy combinations of shiny tights and brightly colored tops, socks and shoes, slinking and lunging and noodling around. Unfortunately, the dancing remained at one mildly amusing but undeveloped level, and the performers were no match for McFerrin's vocal pyrotechnics.
"State of the Art" set up a confrontation that never quite crystallized. Upstage left, a woman in a red dress danced lyrically, sensuously and with great feeling. Downstage right, a quartet of white-suited figures performed in unison a series of tense, mechanical movements that made much use of elbows, fists and wide-open mouths. After what seemed like a very long time, the soloist made her way into the arms of these malevolent souls, took up their movements and eventually fell lifeless at their feet. Art versus business? Freedom versus repression? The contrast is classic, but Withers' interpretation broke no new ground.
The evening also included excerpts from "Suite Light," a revised version of last year's "Laser Dance."
The program will be repeated tonight at 8 p.m.