1. Archive

Choreographer raises dance group's game

If you were inclined to look for fault with Moving Current, this area's finest dance organization, you'd probably have to point to inconsistent quality.

All of the collective's concerts feature works of preternatural power, beauty and ideas. But often, those works share the program with one or two admirably ambitious pieces that just don't work.

The latest Moving Current performance, Friday and Saturday at the University of South Florida's Theater 1, was a happy exception. There was absolutely no shortage of art or inventiveness, but each of the seven pieces on the program resonated, each in a distinctive way.

Moving Current is a collective, not a company. In each show, the core dancers and choreographers work with outside artists from the Tampa Bay area and around the world.

One reason for the strength of the latest performance is the presence of Seattle's Stephanie Skura, one of the country's most respected progressive choreographers. Skura contributed three delightfully quirky older pieces to the performance.

Towel Duet, from 1986, was a slight, short and funny trifle that was little more than two guys (Paul Reller and Michael Foley) in their underwear tugging at a towel. It's meant to be amusing, nothing more, and it succeeds on that level.

Barking Duet (1993) was just as much fun, and maybe a little more artistic, with charismatic performances by Christine Lockhart and Leah Ratliff.

Lifting Duet, a 1986 piece, had Erin Cardinal tossing Foley around with carefully choreographed awkwardness. From a strictly physical standpoint, Lifting Duet was impressive because of the way Cardinal, who's slender even for a dancer, was able to lift and carry Foley, who's not an especially small man.

Skura's pieces were all audience pleasers, especially Lifting Duet, which engendered an almost constant laugh from the crowd.

The other four works were all just as pleasing, and perhaps even more fulfilling on an artistic level.

The evening started with James Hansen's Ophelia's Reclamation, a sensual, almost sexual, trio performed by Cardinal, Robin Balch and Katie Cole Guthrie to a couple of lovely Jeff Buckley songs.

Cynthia Hennessy's Falling Forward, set to music by Kronos Quartet, was probably closer to mainstream contemporary dance than the other pieces, and was simply beautiful to look at.

Foley's solo work, Flor, was a haunting and almost unsettling work, with Foley first holding, then scattering and contemplating, a huge armful of flowers. The music started with droning Eastern chants and then moved to a contemporary classic piece by John Corigliano. Along with Ophelia's Reclamation, it was probably the piece that delivered the most lasting impact.

The evening ended with a new, straightforward Latin piece, Da Frente Para Traf, choreographed by Cardinal to music by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Cardinal's luscious costumes _ among the few traces of bold colors in the entire evening _ were a highlight. The piece served as an upbeat and friendly way to send the audience home after an evening that had delivered a range of powerful thoughts and emotions.