Popular dance is, well, popular this summer: in movies like "Mad Hot Ballroom" and "Rize" and on television shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars." Anyone, it seems, can move. But, as Evander Holyfield and Trista Sutter bravely demonstrated for national television audiences, not everyone can dance well.
Saturday night at Dance Place, that lesson was brought home again by the hardworking but less-than-sufficient dancers and choreographers of the modest Momentum Dance Theatre, a D.C. community company that favors contemporary jazz, hip-hop and social dance forms. Petite powerhouse Roberta Rothstein, who founded Momentum in 1986, fashioned a challenging program.
"Broadway" put Rothstein center stage strutting in a Fosse-esque showpiece. She was backed up by a trio of lanky young men in bowlers, who mostly managed the trademark disjointed angularity and lifts. Dancer/choreographer Aquiles Holladay possessed the butterfly footwork of boxer Muhammad Ali but lacked the technical discipline and upper body finesse to push his solo, "Film," to a higher level. "Out of the Picture," Rothstein's autobiographical treatise on what happens when dancers can't dance because of age, illness or injury, unfortunately featured little action; rambling spoken and recorded monologues marred the premise.
Rajiv Weliwitigoda's "Respect" and Rothstein's "Theme and Variations on 'Respect' " smartly engaged the current vogue for hip-hop culture. Weliwitigoda used the sultry voice of singer Mya, street-tough poses and hard-driving acrobatic head and shoulder stands from hip-hop. Rothstein turned the work inside out, setting thug-like interactions using drawn fists and accusatory fingers to an elegant selection from Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, demonstrating hip-hop's malleability.
-- Lisa Traiger