CityDance Ensemble was looking good Sunday at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington.
A great deal of the dancing was on a comfortably professional level. Artistic Director Paul Gordon Emerson wisely chose small-scale works that suited the center's intimate theater, and many of the works were choreographically strong. That's a pretty good batting average.
Last year's solo "Chinook" (choreographed by Vladimir Angelov) and duet from "Falling Into the Sea" (by Emerson) are proving themselves more interesting with repetition. The instrumentation for "Chinook" (original music by Francesca Jandasek) is haunting, with muted chimes, periodic percussive bursts, and a Slovakian wind instrument (fujara) that sounds like wind blowing a far way off. Performer Connie Fink lets the sounds inhabit her body, and they blow her about in gusts and lulls. Similarly, in "Falling," dancer Melissa Greco lets the qualities of water wash through her limbs and torso.
Expanding the modern-dance sensibility of the company is Frenchman Ludovic Jolivet, whose film "Meeting Apart" CityDance premiered. The film paired him and Greco with a park bench. Man and woman were separate. Then they came together. There was plenty of French, world-weary ennui in the purposefully expressionless performances, and the climax had the feel of a cigarette stub being flicked into the street -- it was final yet throwaway. Jolivet is a natural mover. He moves like a mime (he was trained in physical theater) rather than a dancer, as was evident in Eric Hampton's ensemble ballet "Girl Friends" at the end of the program. Yet he has a chunky charm and an Everyman quality that makes his works touch the heart.
The center's well-appointed proscenium beautifully framed the works and their performers. This theater is terrific for presenting small dance ensembles and, like the lovely, intimate theater in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, gives local companies a much-needed venue to develop the stagecraft of dance.
Also on Sunday's program, which was part of the JCC's "Dance Lives" series, were the mime solo "Roger & Lucie" (by Jolivet), Adrain Bolton's fortissimo quartet "Givin' Up," and Alvin Mayes's solo "One Less Candle" (with a strong performance by Karen Bernstein) and intricate "Trio Blanco."
at the Jewish Community Center.