There are sometimes moments in a dance performance that can be described as drenched with grace, when what is happening onstage seems to re-enact basic metaphors about being human. Such moments are moving, but they can also make one impatient with dance that doesn't follow through to reach some profound truth.
LINES Contemporary Ballet, one of the headliners of the Florida Dance Festival, danced well Friday night at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, but Alonzo King's choreography frustrated me. It seemed merely a visual rendering of the music's hills and valleys, swirls and eddies without, for the most part, any deeper synthesis. The moments when deeper things seemed to happen made me open to where the choreographer might be leading, but he didn't deliver.
Such a moment came in the third section of a dance to String Quartet by Pawel Szymanski. Partnered by Yannis Adoniou, Chiharu Shibata revolved slowly around the axis her toe made on the floor while one leg pointed heavenward and her torso was cast toward earth. It was a powerful image of spirit striving heavenward and body rooted on earth, but King's choreography never communicated a sustained meaning.
The most disappointing piece was Rock, choreographed to seven African-American spirituals sung in a recording by Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the group Sweet Honey in the Rock. This slave music resonates with light and love and is such a profound declaration of human spirit that the dancing has to match that power or it looks feeble. Katherine Warner stumbling around blindfolded to be cradled in a chair held by Freddie Miranda in one of the spirituals, Coming Home, didn't begin to mine the layers of meaning packed into the music.
The dance festival's Street Fair in Ybor City was washed out by Saturday's deluge and will not be rescheduled. The festival continues through July 2 with nightly events.
Tonight at 7:30, choreographer Jane Comfort gives a free lecture on "Body Language and Gender" in which she will discuss the work S/he, which her company performs later in the week.
Tuesday, the "Florida Dances" program at 8 p.m. will feature choreographers Chris Aiken, Demetrius Klein and Lorelei E. Bayne, the groups Harmonic Motion and Mary Street Dance Theatre, and others.
Wednesday, a free, improvisational "Dance Jam" with drummers and other music will begin at 8 p.m.
At 1 p.m. Thursday, Danny Buraczeski presents "In Search of Jack Cole," a lecture/demonstration on an influential Hollywood choreographer. Jane Comfort and Company perform S/he at 8 p.m. Thursday.
All events mentioned are at the University of South Florida's Fine Arts Theater 1 on the Tampa campus. Call 974-2323 or 974-5923 for information.
LINES Contemporary Ballet
Performing as part of the Florida Dance Festival at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Friday. Tonight's festival installment: choreographer Jane Comfort's lecture, "Body Language and Gender," 7:30 at University of South Florida.