In Jody Weber's new dance quintet "Revolve," floor to ceiling triangles of billowy white cloth lit by a warm golden light suggest the sails of ships at sunrise. As the five women dip and turn, it is a gorgeous image, complemented by the quiet sounds of water lapping against the sides of a boat.
Then, with just a simple shift of lighting and the entrance of Middle Eastern-sounding music, the panels seem to become the doorways of Bedouin tents, and the dancers form slowly shifting lines and circles, a folk-like quality to their simple walks and their arms swinging in arcs. It all suggests a communal journey, whether in distance or simply perspective, as the women lyrically define the space, accompanying one another in gentle lifts and falls.One of three premieres this weekend at Green Street Studios, "Revolve," like many of the choreographer's pieces, is marred only by a lack of closure and cohesive overall development. The ending duet between Nicole Pierce and Shannon Humphreys begs for a full-group follow-up, rather than simply (and unsatisfyingly) fading away.
That unfinished quality seemed deliberate in the new "A Steadfast Season," set to a luminous aria from Bach's Cantata BWV 82. Weber, one of the area's most notable veteran dancer
/choreographers as well as co-executive director of Green Street Studios, is a beautiful mover, and she and Brian Crabtree gave this elegant duet an exquisite performance. Their stretches, turns, and extensions had a molten quality, with weight flowing into the floor. They intersected only briefly, with fleeting glimpses and momentary supports -- a hand tenderly cradling a face, a head resting on a shoulder -- until the final tableau. Weber dove into Crabtree's arms and froze as the music unsettlingly stopped short of the final cadence. The third premiere, "Vestige," was set to a taped text by written by Andrew Arnett that explored the reflections of four women in different stages of life interspersed with explanations regarding the physiology of memory. Audra Carabetta, Ann Fonte Abbott, and Julie Pike Edmond lugged red suitcases as if they were the physical repositories of the dreams and memories to which the text alluded. It was a bit disjunct, and some of the dramatic posing a little too literal. However, the final moments were poignant, as an older woman confessed, "I don't recall how I got here . . . Don't forget me -- ever."
In last season's "Main Line Junket," Weber indulged her silly streak with pratfalls, skirmishes, and bursts of wacky enthusiasm as three women in colorful mismatched clothes danced around a feathery red purse. The lovely, lyrical phrases of "Vox Silencia" were unfortunately undermined by gauzy, shapeless costumes that obscured clarity of line. However, it was all there in "Crosscut," one of Weber's strongest works. Crystalline formality, with dancers carefully pointing feet and curving arms, was vibrantly laced with a playful use of details in small, very human gestures, reminding us the dancers are not just malleable bodies but real people.