Lucie La Frange gets top billing in Ludovic Jolivet's "Roger and Lucie," but Lucie's not a dancer; she's a mop. Jolivet's not just a dancer--he's a mime; a sweet, sad clown--and his funny little work brought a splash of life to the CrossCurrents Dance Company program at Dance Place.
He trudged onstage near the close of Saturday's program in slouchy slacks and a T-shirt, dragging his mop behind him. Jolivet lumbers to the beat of a slow, thumping tango, composed by local musician Alejandro Muzio with just the right touch of melodrama and slippery wit.
Jolivet has a face made for silent films--broad and open, with melancholy eyes. So it's not Fred Astaire but Charlie Chaplin who comes to mind when he upends the mop and embarks on a superbly understated comic courtship with the long-fringed implement.
Jolivet learned his craft doing solo mime shows in the cafe-theaters of his native Paris, and he has a good sense of timing, subtlety and honesty. This is a young man to keep an eye on.
That is, if you can spot him. He was merely a blur in the ensemble in Debra Kanter's earnest but unfocused "Beyond All Measure"--something to do with freeing oneself from restrictions--and "Lifeline," jointly made by Kanter and Helen Hayes as a predictably gooey tribute to their friendship.
One of the problems with the program was a sameness of texture and style throughout the evening. Most of the works had a sweepy, swirly lyrical feel, heavy on the emoting, with lots of expansive upper-body movement. Nice to watch, once.
There's a physical consistency among the dancers as well. CrossCurrents directors Hayes and Kanter have forged a remarkably homogeneous group. The dancers are evenly matched in skill. They are overwhelmingly female, and the two men in the company are rarely set off--that is, they're just part of the crowd. There's no attempt to underscore their differences in strength or movement quality. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but one wonders why more isn't made of Ted Freeman's stature--he's at least a head taller than anyone else onstage, and just think of what he could do in a fitting duet.
The men and women are generally all identically costumed as well--if the women are in chiffon skirts, the men wear chiffon tops. Unbecoming, but they match.
Cathy Paine contributed three works, of which "Guardian of the Dreamtime" was notable for allowing the best view of how each of the dancers moves individually--which is quite well, given the chance.