Meisha Bosma is not afraid to let her dancers weep, laugh, gag, twitch or wriggle in decidedly unattractive ways. Yet for all the gawky poses she finagles from her young troupe's four women and a quartet of guest dancers, her compact evening of new and recent work presented Saturday at the Jack Guidone Theater was surprisingly beautiful and, in many instances, satisfyingly stimulating.
Bosma, a Northern Virginian who has been making headway on the local dance scene since founding BosmaDance last year, imbues her choreography with a kinetic muscularity and uninhibited expressiveness. These same qualities were apparent in the works of three invited choreographers -- Israelis Amir Kolben and Ofra Idel-Lipshitz, and D.C. dancer Kelly Bond-Wallis.
The program's weightiest work, "Plural Me," a world premiere commissioned by the Alexandria Performing Arts Association and crafted by Idel-Lipshitz, a Jerusalem dancer and choreographer, percolates with emotional intensity and unbridled physicality. Four women wrestle with shifting identities, one moment smiling and simpering like models on a runway, the next fraught with turmoil. This is heart-and-soul-on-the-sleeve choreography, and when Leah Wrobel spouts a Hebrew monologue of non sequiturs and the women paint each other's faces with false smiles and tears, the posturing begins to match the turmoil embedded in compulsive repetitions and aggressive swipes of movement. Idel-Lipshitz draws deeply from her four dancers both emotionally and physically, yet her demands never meander into pretense, particularly the near-frenzied solo for Wrobel, who unrelentingly flings herself asunder.
A pair of brief sketches excerpted from Bosma's "Handle With Care," which will premiere Sept. 15 and 16 on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, provided a glimpse into a world that's both heartfelt and somehow off-kilter. Kolben's "Shadow," danced gamely by Idel-Lipshitz, proved a cipher in its brief passage. An excerpt from a larger piece, it doesn't work well alone.
For "Somewhere Belgium," Bond-Wallis favors delicacy and introspection. Her visual design, including a chain of linked letters dropped around the circumference of the stage, and her structure, which invites in a doppelganger -- Brynne Billingsley -- hint at the strains of separation. While the women come together to dance, they find a connection. Even so, their splayed arches, calculated tumbles and wringing hands, punctuated by moments of repose, lend the work an air of mysterious longing.
BosmaDance stands on the verge of making a solid contribution to the local arts community with numerous performances scheduled in the coming season, a cadre of top-flight dancers and an artistic director with a keen eye for fresh work.