Is Jane Franklin the Erma Bombeck of local modern dance? Perhaps, for this Arlington-based choreographer has a keen eye for portraying everyday suburban banalities with wit, vigor and flair. At her Sunday afternoon concert at Dance Place, she had moms and daughters dancing together; dances about home-cleaning tips, carnival rides and midway games; and dances about easygoing friendships. Jane Franklin Dance's core performers, four women, dance with everyday grace.
"Outside," a simple meditation on the outdoors to excerpts from Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, builds to an athletic section with leaps, jumps, rolls and runs before settling back down to a languid close with the dancers supine. "Talking in Circles," a duet for Meris Brown and Jessica Marchant, plays with quick and facile changes of direction and circling arms and torsos. A story of loss informs "little isabelle": Franklin, in a white hoop skirt, sees a child and grown woman mark their paths with stones; but Franklin, constrained by her unwieldy skirt, is left empty-armed.
"Home Remedies: Backyard Dance and Art" uses a score by the Percussion Art Quartett Wurzburg and finds fun in found objects. A set by Brece Honeycutt features primary-colored pitchers and wash basins, which the dancers hoist in "Drink Plenty of Water." "Listen to Good Advice" winks at the ever-helpful columnist Heloise with suggestions for storing plastic grocery bags. The crinkled bags become flags, totems, balloons, dust mops and the like for the dancers' explorations. A section using classic flip-flops played with the distinctive sound of rubber slapping the bottom of the heel. Four women flip-flopped out a rhythm that was then repeated or embellished by stomps of boot-wearing Josh Halloway.
"Home Bodies," Franklin's trio for three mother-daughter pairs, demonstrated that simplicity and sincerity can be most effective. Dance as play is the theme of the work as the daughters (from 5 to 8 years old) shaped their mothers' bodies into living sculptures. Child's play--crawling under Mom, skipping and lap sitting--forms the exquisite found moments that Franklin allows her dancers to explore with innocence and integrity. Not the stuff of recital showcases, "Home Bodies" lets expressive poignancy seep through the lovingly performed dance of childhood.