The 11 dancers of ODC/San Francisco are a supremely sunny bunch. With their rosy West Coast glow and athleticism, they look Gap-commercial good in anything. On Saturday this California-raised troupe, its heart and its cooperative soul planted in Ohio's college town Oberlin back in the 1970s, returned to Washington, bringing mixed repertory from two of the company's founders, Brenda Way and KT Nelson. The three works at Dance Place, while no masterpieces, allowed their attractive dancers to shine.
Nelson's "RingRoundRozi," from last year, begins as a playful romp. Dancers dash and skitter madly across the stage, bounding and leapfrogging, balancing on their hands and catching themselves effortlessly. Linda Bouchard's commissioned sound collage, featuring children's voices and percussion, jostles with Nelson's intermingling traffic patterns for quick-shifting groups of dancers. With precision the dancers cut diagonals and carve curves from thin air. But the gamesmanship wears thin; sometimes less is better.
Way's "24 Exposures" captured the summery and at times insouciant quality of its outdoorsy score, selections of Appalachian bluegrass as recorded with uncanny sensitivity by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark O'Connor.
In Way's newest work, "On a Train Heading South," an allegorical satire serves notice to those who ignore global warming, with waiflike Anne Zivolich sounding the alarm. Jack Perla's lush recorded score for strings, clarinet and piano, punctuated by President Bush sound bites on environmental policy; Cassandra Carpenter's icy white costumes; and Alexander Nichols's set, with its hanging blocks of ice melting on the gleaming floor, conveyed Way's political stance. But Zivolich's exquisite delirium kept us watching.
ODC/San Francisco returns to Reston Community Center Oct. 19 and to Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown Oct. 22-23, with different programs.
-- Lisa Traiger