Sunday, January 27, 2002

Creach/Company has moments, but too few

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        There was plenty of material for modern-dance lovers to lose themselves in with Creach/Company. The Contemporary Dance Theater guest artist series hosted this company of six men, plus company choreographer Terry Creach, at the Aronoff Friday (with a repeat performance Saturday). They shared the Jarson-Kaplan stage with VocalPoint — an ensemble of the Cincinnati Men's Chorus led by Steven Milloy.

        Softly sculpted gestural moves — arms reaching, pleading and curving — balanced other moves that were sharp and darting — arms and legs slicing the air. Called “Study for a Resurrection,” the work was danced to ancient chants and religious songs. Any Catholic who grew up when Latin and Greek were still used in the Church would experience deja vu with the Kyrie that opened the piece.

        Biblical stories and ancient art were referenced in the movement — including a repeated pose resembling the Pieta, with a Christ figure draped over the Virgin Mary. Music and movement blended or separated with singers moving onstage and off — sometimes singing in the wings.

        The choreography was punctu ated by gymnastic partnering repeated over and over — cartwheels, handstands and flips done effortlessly — juicy, fluid movement that developed quickly without strain. There's an unpolished casualness to Mr. Creach's choreography that, when it's working, has the ability to mesmerize; when it's not, it has the ability to put you to sleep.

        Unfortunately the meaning behind this piece is obscured behind lovely, cool moves — and often behind lovely, cool bodies, evident when two of the company's most muscularly cut men disrobe. The effect of the oft-entering nearly nude bodies — whether intentional or not — was to bring the viewer's attention back to the stage action.

        With so many poses that were obvious references to art works from the past, an art history book would have come in handy. There were lots of quick starts and moving in ever-changing duets that would abruptly stop in a pose. The piece began with slow ensemble tumbling and ended with a lone figure onstage, but the significance of this was unclear.

        Mr. Creach has assembled an able, cohesive and strong body of male dancers. I kept wanting to see them in a more finely developed work. Unfortunately this one bordered on self-indulgence.


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