Don't fear 'emerging' dance; it's a delight

Published May 19, 2007

TAMPA - The crowd was sparse for opening night of Moving Current's New Grounds concert. Perhaps potential audience members feared that an evening of dance by "emerging" choreographers meant substandard work.

Such fears were groundless. In fact, the concert - which continues with performances today - is one of the most consistently elegant, inventive and enjoyable local dance offerings in a long time.

The idea behind New Grounds, now in its seventh year, is to give up-and-coming choreographers a chance to showcase their work in a professional setting.

Often, there's a noticeably weak piece or two. This year, every performance has moments, at least, of real power and beauty.

Perhaps the weakest piece of the evening is the first. "Beach Notes" is this year's community dance project, in which dancers from Moving Current join with Forever Moving, a company of older dancers, and local youngsters.

"Beach Notes" is colorful and enjoyable, but mostly inconsequential. A final and beautiful dance segment finally ignites the piece.

Gainesville's Colette Krogol follows with a hugely fun and acrobatic solo set to a cover version of Elvis Presley's Return to Sender.

Courtney Smith next offers a compelling solo work. Smith's movement is striking, but perhaps the most impressive element of the work is her combining of speeches by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Charles Manson with music by Chopin. The effect is stunning, and the dance complements it exquisitely.

The first act ends with a delightful take on Ravel's Bolero by Ferdinand De Jesus of Lakeland. De Jesus has found a lightness and humor in the famously heavy-handed music, and the dancers from Florida Dance Theatre, while far from flawless, carry it off with just the right attitude.

The second half isn't quite as strong, but Rachael Inman of Birmingham, Ala., offers an absolutely beautiful solo aerial work, "By a Thread ... ."

"The Zoo, " by Robyn Luck of Miami, features some amazing abstract video (by Luck) but it overpowers the dance.

Matthew Reeves' "Bowling Green" is a lovely duet that evokes a pastoral America of both hope and despair that offers some gorgeous tableaus and provoking images. Palatka's Alison McLearn ends the evening with a mild but still impressive trio called We are, we want, we were.

If you go

Moving Current's New Grounds

The performance repeats at 2 and 8 p.m. today in Theater I on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida. $15 general admission, $10 students and seniors. (813) 974-2323