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CHARITY BALL Dance Benefit for Movement Research, Inc. Margaret Eginton and John Howell Photographs by Nathaniel Tileston Cynthia Hedstrom, Director 19 Movement Research, Inc. is the flat-footed name for an organization which supports some of the liveliest dance around. As an institution, it exists not in a building but in the minds and studios of its affiliated choreographers and dancers. As a group it is eclectic by design, drawing on a sense of shared general attitudes toward dance rather than on any monolithic ideology. Movement Research sponsors workshops and informal performances, operates as a consulting service for concerts, and occasionally presents benefits for its programs. After two years its premise seems clearly established, for an overflow crowd showed up for the second such benefit at an out-ofthe -way venue (Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th Street) not suited for dance (an auditorium with bad sight lines) on a bitterly cold night (December 19). The program featured nine dances by a mix of veteran and relatively new choreographer-dancers: Steve Paxton, Daniel Lepkoff, Lisa Nelson, Nancy Stark Smith, Christina Svane, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn, Judy Padow, Dana Reitz, Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Yoshiko Chuma, and Johanna Boyce. Their very different performances encompassed various kinds of contemporary dance called by that vague term "post-modern"; there were three movement-study solos (Reitz, Padow, and Dunn), one talking-dancing duet (Jones and Zane), two collaborative works (Freelance: Paxton, Lepkoff, Nelson, Smith, Svane; and King with Carter Frank, Shari Cavin, and William Shepard), two tightly graphed group pieces (Boyce and Padow), and one dance/film collaboration (Chuma with Jacob Burckhardt ). Aside from their diversity, the only other general characteristic this group exhibited was a sense of consolidation rather than of 20 experimentation. As the Sage near us noted, it was strange to see nothing very strange at such a concert of "new" dance. Of course by now most polemical dance points have passed into conventional wisdom: unaccompanied dance, dance with distinctively separate accompaniment, structure as subject, non-technical and task-oriented movement, ordinary objects as props, neutral performance presence. And the use of more extreme elements-everyday behavior, improvisation , nudity, confrontation of the audience -has diminished as has their shock value. All of the dances in this concert were very well-mannered (with the partial exception of Chuma's); nothing extreme happened to disturb an equally good-natured audience. The benefit atmosphere undoubtedly played a part in creating this mood. However, as each performer's dance was representative of his or her choreography, this good-will looks to be built into the foundations of a lot of current work; a certain disregard for the viewer seems absent in favor of pleasing (in the largest sense of the word) the audience. Not all innovation is a splashy affair. Beneath the now-accepted rhetoric of "post-modern" dance, choreography continues to extend, by more subtle means, the forms and methods established for dance by two decades of exhaustive experimentation . On the whole, the program showed just how far this dance has come; now, as in the other arts, the trick will be for these dances to drag one foot in the side ditch as they find themselves rolling down the middle of the road. As indicated by the large and enthusiastic audience, the "postmoderns " have come of age. Dana Reitz, Steps. Not the 1975 study of walking in place but a new piece (or new version of the old one) for arms and torso with some traveling ... structured improvisations : sections began with various simple arm-swinging motions, ended like a train of thought after variations, then a brief walk and into another ... witty phrases growing out of simple hand gestures ... a liquid quality which counterpointed the angular shapes ... smooth transfers of weight ... attack is quick and light but grounded ... new easy-going, direct attitude toward audience. Freelance, Raft (excerpt). Dance in which things happen ... duet of many droll encounters (Nelson and Svane), stormy trio (Nelson, Svane, and Paxton), sleepy solo by Nelson, Lepkoff samurai solo of extreme spinal articulations ... some group contact work ... dead-pan chorus line joke ... freeze-tag ... paper sacks pulled across stage and slowly closing black curtain marked passing time...


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pp. 19-23
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