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Dance Review

A rich sampler at the Dance Complex

Rebecca Rice performs “Tribute,’’ wearing a gown that her grandmother, Marion Rice, danced in at the age of 30. Rebecca Rice performs “Tribute,’’ wearing a gown that her grandmother, Marion Rice, danced in at the age of 30. (Charles Daniels)
By Karen Campbell
Globe Correspondent / May 24, 2010

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CAMBRIDGE — African dance, ballet, Denishawn, even the pop and lock hits of krump — the weekend’s Dance Complex Faculty Concert of all new works was an entertaining sampler of the variety of styles that enliven the busy rehearsal and teaching studios every week. Marianne Harkless’s “Awakening’’ served as a welcome, with Sylvia Kelly chanting a Congolese “Call for Peace’’ and six female dancers filling the space with a spirited blend of modern dance and African-inspired movements, upper bodies pumping forward and back as stomps and catch steps carried the dancers into eye-catching patterns.

Rebecca Rice mined three generations of her family’s dance legacy with Denishawn (the school/choreography of modern dance pioneers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn) in “Tribute.’’ Wearing a white gown that her grandmother, Marion Rice, danced in at the age of 30, Rice seemed to channel the famed dancer/teacher’s material in an elegant distillation. She was all soft curves and voluptuous spins, head back, arms raising and opening, hands cupped as if cradling pockets of air.

Nicole DeVicci, Christine McDowell, and Rachel Nizhnikova were beautifully articulate in Margot Parsons’s contemporary ballet piece “Temporal Constellation,’’ set to a spare original piano score by Ai Isshiki. Long-lined leaps, pirouettes, and chainé turns sent them in and out of brief connections, sometimes as shadows to one another, at other times with a gentle push or fleeting gesture of support.

Ricardo Foster Jr. and three of his World Rejectz dancers offered a snappy free form display of krump, energy rippling through their bodies like electricity, popping into jagged isolations or erupting into flips and tumbles. Their moves looked like impeccably controlled seizures that could stop and start on a dime.

Rozann Kraus’s theatrical sextet “3 oz’’ seemed to tap into the paranoia of international travel. Dancers burst into airport speak in six languages. They shed shoes and coats, placed metal objects in a plastic bin, patted each other down. Frantic bursts of activity sent them running, falling, tussling with one another. But as the lights finally dimmed, they succumbed to the numbing depersonalization, heads rolled back, eyes to the sky, as they slowly edged backward offstage.

Daniel McCusker’s “Mixed Suite’’ was the charming finale. Cast for 10 women and set to a series of folk-like tunes for concertina and harp by classical German composer Bernhard Molique, the suite created a sense of tender, caring community as the women’s gentle walks and glides unfurled as serpentine coils, chains of interlocked arms and small group ambles. Each smile, playful gesture, or lyrical flourish seemed to set off yet another interconnected phrase that time and again drew the dancers together.

Karen Campbell can be reached at karencampbell4@rcn.com.

SIMPLY DANCE Presented By Dance Complex faculty

At: Dance Complex, Saturday