Like eggs over easy, Joseph Mills and Alcine Wiltz dance with direct and uncluttered grace. They eschew high-flying virtuosity for subtle dynamic changes, clean lines and sharp focus in their movement and choreography. Both academics--Mills is on the dance faculty at George Washington University, and Wiltz is chairman of the dance department at the University of Maryland--they danced together for the first time in 20 years Saturday evening at Dance Place.
Their association began when Mills studied dance from Wiltz in college. Later Mills performed with Momix and the Erick Hawkins Dance Company before coming to Washington four years ago. Mills's works are showy, a little kitschy and enjoyably digestible. "Suite on Mel" uses the velvety songs of Mel Torme in a solo set among a flock of plastic pink flamingos. "CONTENTious," a duet for Mills and Mary Buckley, is a wickedly smart and sharp look at a couple in the heat of battle and the throes of passion. Buckley can whip Mills around her shoulders as easily as he can single-handedly toss her through the air. Their tugs and pulls, pushes and embraces have a zestful spunk and peppery flavor.
Wiltz prefers his dances to dig deeper psychologically. "Fragmented," his solo, uses a dense Arvo Part score. Wiltz is all nerves and compulsions--crouching, trembling, rocking, contorting, itching--his sinewy body compressed with anxiety and drawn toward the sculpted square of light that designer Paul Jackson placed on the stage. "Sanctuary," in 1993 a female trio, is now for three men: Mills, Wiltz and Leonard Wood. The work relies on tension from the dancers and the minimalist building of Somei Satoh's violin-and-piano score. Stalks of dried wheat adorn the stage, and the men enter, intersect and exit, ultimately leaving Wiltz alone in a yearning reach.
Together, Mills and Wiltz crafted "Intersecting Parallels" to Toby Twining's vocalizations. In their collaboration and celebration, the two revel in the moment, the ease of the dance carrying them away.