Sunday afternoon's twin bill at Dance Place featured two duo companies, each staking out its own side of an intermission. Lacy & Shade, made up of Sandra Lacy and Mary Williford-Shade, is a relatively young collaboration seemingly eager to explore new choreographic terrain. Karen & Alvin is the well-loved local dance team of Karen Bernstein and Alvin Mayes. Their half of the program consisted entirely of the premiere of Mayes's "Embraceable You."
Lacy & Shade opened with "A Wrinkle in the Seat Beside Me," choreographed by Michael Foley. Costumed in petticoats and moving easily to songs by Rosanne Cash, the pair captured a mood of relaxed, playful harmony. Their other duet, "Henrietta and Alexandra," was filled with droll, sophisticated wit. Spoken excerpts from a story by Donald Barthelme described two girls who grew increasingly "beyond the pale." "Will It Fit, Will It Spill?," choreographed by Karinne Keithley, was a quirky solo by Shade, full of marionette-like gestures and obscurely disturbing movement. Lacy's solo "Dissolve," by Jose Luis Bustamante, was ambitious and abstract, touching on the interplay between detachment and involvement. She danced the piece with technical assurance and well-balanced emotional intensity.
Karen & Alvin's new work was a nostalgic reverie set to jazz classics. Josephine Darner anchored the conceit as an old woman, onstage throughout, whose romantic memories were danced by Bernstein and Mayes. The strongest moments were ballroom-style interludes. The two move with such elegant presence, and Bernstein is so extraordinarily beautiful, that one's attention was diverted from the work's relative lack of substance.