The very best kind of dancing is that which seems to flow effortlessly out of its performers' bodies and offers the spectator both a visual challenge and an emotional release. Sunday evening at Dance Place, choreographer Bill Young and the five members of his five-year-old New York-based company fulfilled those requirements and then some.
Watching them expertly romp, roll, stretch, glide, slither and fling their way through a dance like his "RoughSix," I was reminded of monkeys, gazelles, abstract paintings, kids on a playground. At once elegant and unhinged, these agile creatures -- Susan Blankensop, Allyson Green, Larry Hahn, Emily Stern, Lissly Trachtenberg and Young -- mesh and separate in the most amazingly variegated ways. One moment they gently cradle and lift each other; then, suddenly, bodies crash hard and fast. Hahn places his fist on Young's chest; Young responds by placing his fist on Hahn's cheek. Twice during this 40-minute-long piece, all six hit the floor and begin to churn, contract, roll and heave in exhilarating, often comical unison. Technically assured and absolutely fearless, these dances go far beyond steps and positions into a realm of magical, constantly changing shapes, relationships and moods.
Such a level of performance often blinds the spectator to the inventiveness of the choreography itself. Judging by "RoughSix," Young has a Cunninghamesque appreciation of stage space (every little corner matters), a love of both perfectly placed and unruly movement, and a wonderful understanding of group dynamics. Made up of 20 brief segments, originally made for television, "RoughSix" flashes by like some quirky, provocative dream. Accompanied by Mio Morales' equally fractured and charming score for synthesizer, voice and percussion, this invigorating work makes me eager to see what Young will come up with next.