"Urban Views" seemed an odd name for the erratic program of dances presented this past weekend at Dance Place. The title must have referred to the fact that all five performer-choreographers on the bill -- Paul Langland, Gail Turner, Donald Fleming, David Zambrano and Sarah Skaggs -- are active participants in the "downtown" arts scene of New York, but the three works presented had little or nothing to do with life in the big city.
Things began slowly with excerpts from Langland's "The Ghost of a Flea." In the first sequence, Langland, collaborated with Turner on a duet titled "Rapture." By turns riveting and deadly dull, the dance features pale, solid Turner as a kind of Svengali or puppetmaster. To the eerie strains of Dan Schreier's synthesized score, she manipulates Langland in minimal, slow-mo style -- standing behind him, directing the motion of his arm or head by means of slight prodding and pressure. Then came "Jonah," a film by Langland and Jeff Stevenson in which magnetic resonance imagery is employed in aesthetic fashion. This amazing technology allows us to watch a face or a hand metamorphose into a skull and then an abstraction.
Fleming and Zambrano's creation, "Los Que Se Fueron," is based on images of men in wartime, but most of all it is about what two virtuosic dancers can accomplish in a bare, atmospherically lighted space.
In "Prelude for Salome," Skaggs offers a puzzling but always intriguing portrait of a woman in turmoil. Set to Steven Harvey's soundtrack, this exquisite, unpretentious performer sends her lean frame through all manner of movements.