A day on Earth must seem too short for Tony Powell. His dance concerts--windows into a life of creative output--suggest a couple of clones lurking in the wings. Composer, choreographer, dancer, pianist, visual artist in several media, he even uses his (brief) experience of sleep itself as material and inspiration. Saturday night's program at Dance Place was a harvest of this toil.
The works were coherent, lucid and consistent, despite the array of media and approaches. His choreography is honest, music-based and dedicated to the beauty of moving human bodies. "Violent Dream," a severely modern ensemble piece, was exemplary; constant motion reigned among the seven women dancers, but there was a fluid interplay between pattern and chaos, harmony and dissonance. Powell's own music generated the relentless, hypnotic energy.
A quieter side emerged with "Counterpoise," a duet Powell performed with Claire Malaquias. Rich in contact, effortless lifts and graceful resolutions, this piece seemed to contain the elements of space, reflection and silence, which are somewhat wanting in the rest of the artist's work.
One suspects this to be the choreographer's point exactly.
Malaquias, probably Washington's finest journeyman modern dancer, was superb. Her move to New York next month will be a real loss for the local dance community.
In "Solo 3," hundreds of video clips of Powell dancing were tightly edited and digitally modified. Another of his scores cued the changes.
Since the entertainment industry relentlessly pursues the same genre, it is remarkable that this relatively low-tech attempt seemed original.
The program ended with the premiere of "Golden Section." This relied on Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," performed by pianist Jessica Krash.
Enamored of this dance-derived masterpiece, Powell mined its every nuance to create a swirling, restless tribute to classical proportions.
CAPTION: Powell's creativity carries the show.