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Review: Yes, Virginia Dance

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Watching a showcase of dance by different choreographers parallels reading a book of short stories, or watching a series of film shorts. You get a glimpse into a world, a relationship or someones's mind -- and upon some reflection, perhaps your own.



Last weekend's Yes, Virginia Dance, for the ninth year running, offered many such glimpses through an eclectic selection of work by eight contemporary dance artists.



In Lucy Bowen McCauley's "Hannah, You There?" three absurd figures in goofy costumes cavorted about the stage in a ridiculous but entertaining assortment of images; a silent pose interrupted by the snap of a party blower elicited chuckles from the audience. By contrast, choreographer Karen Reedy's "Path of Attraction" was lusciously performed by Noelle Snyder and Prentice Whitlow, who led us in a grounded and fluid dance through the familiar advance and retreat of human attraction and isolation, accompanied by deep-throated string music.



The striking image of a woman in a bulky suit balancing amidst a shimmering length of fabric suspended from both sides of the stage characterized Carli Mareneck's "Thread." The dancer (Mareneck herself) processed down center stage repeatedly and each time her face changed to reflect delight or horror or fear or perhaps resignation. Each time she returned to the swath of fabric, she peeled off a layer of clothes, balanced within its heaving length, and her expression grew more raw.



Kaye Weinstein Gary's take on Wendy Wasserstein's short play "Workout" felt quirky and offbeat, as Gary herself took the stage along with two former Richmond Ballet dancers, Kristen Gallagher and Katie Lynch. The two formed an adorable chorus, in workout clothes, executing workout moves at Gary's direction in the intervals between sections of her well-delivered, over-achiever-lady-monologue. A segment of audience participation, however, seemed to distract from the play's clever charm, though it fed right in to the main character's control issues.



Also on the program, Jane Franklin's "Ring," in which a cast of eight dancers move in vaguely ritualistic patterns, wielding bamboo rings, did not seem sure of what it wanted to be -- profound? Symbolic? Simple? It needed more weight and decision to evolve in any of those directions.

Dancer Sandra Lacy performed an engrossing solo, "Dissolve," by New York choreographer Jeanine Durning. Lacy, moving with economy and intensity, proved a convinicing interpreter of what appeared to be Durning's dark evocation of a disintegrating personality.



"Flipped," a comic solo by Christina Briggs, Edward Winslow and Patti Gilstrap, injected a demented amusement into the evening. Gilstrap's charming lady performer kept being interrupted by two diabolical puppets (her feet), who were determined to shatter her civilized veneer.

Amaranth Contemporary Dance performed Scott Putman's "F.D.P.," a relentless, energetic dance with lots to look at -- eight dancers spinning and slicing across the stage, freezing and then bursting to life again, manipulating each others' limbs, gazing toward the audience with challenging eyes. It made a crowd-pleasing finish, and whatever the audience's take on the evening's varied works, they united in enthusiastic applause at the end. Success.

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