While it was a form favored by the founders of modern dance, the solo dance concert has been a relative rarity for the last half century. One artist bucking the trend is Suzanne Grace, director of St. Louis-based Burning Feet Dance, who performed at Mount Vernon College's Hand Chapel on Wednesday. Of the seven works given, six were solos -- and all featured Grace.
The solo was chosen by Grace's artistic forebears as most directly revelatory of the individual. However, the solos of Grace's repertory did not disclose an intensely personal voice. The repertory seemed rather to operate under the assumption that only extreme diversity would keep the viewer's interest. Unfortunately, somewhere in this quest for variety, Grace got lost.
The non sequiturs of the concert's title -- "Romance, Fireworks, Loops & Tangos" -- suggest the near-giddy display of contrast. Grace's own choreography, which ranged freely among modern dance genres, included a derivative prop essay ("Captured"), an improvisational study of working within restricted space ("the loop piece") and a formulaic amalgam of jazz cliche's ("Uh Oh ...").
The works commissioned from other choreographers also showed no connecting thread other than varying pedigree. There was "Nocturne" by Peter Sparling (who danced with Martha Graham), "Dialogue" by Ellen Cornfield (who danced with Merce Cunningham) and "The Godchild of Sole," by St. Louis jazz teacher Lee Nolting.
It was the only group offering, Grace's "Tango Freeze," that proved most memorable. A trio for Grace, Paul Mosley and Theresa Berenato, the work grafted the tango's atmosphere and signature poses onto a modish, athletic collection of flat, angular movement that was frozen into stop-action poses. The work's impact was abetted by a driving percussion score by Lance Garger, who performed with the company.
Grace herself is a voluptuous dancer with a long line, exquisitely arched feet and a mobile face. But in these days, when there is an abundance of physical prowess, there also has to be a clear esthetic on which to hang a repertory.