Christopher Pilafian’s elegant “Dance for an Unknown Occasion” opened this show, which featured works the UCSB Dance Company will soon be taking on tour. Ten dancers dressed in red moved through slow, angular ebbs and flows as though observing a solemn ritual gathering. In a culture where sacred ceremony is an all but lost art, Pilafian’s work was a reminder of the value and beauty of calling forth a gathering with our fellow travelers.
In Christina McCarthy’s “Quadrant,” Larry Daniels and Hila Schoffman danced within a delicate grid made of dowels, accompanied by the music of Jamshied Sharifi. UCSB senior Monica Ford’s piece, “Xibalba Be,” depicted a dystopian world where dancers became products of assembly lines and fought to climb a ladder placed at center stage-but where heart and cooperation eventually won out.
Nancy Colohan’s 2007 work “she passes through :” spotlighted the tall, powerful Ford and the smaller but no less powerful Michele Wong in solos and duets. Colohan brought in several other company members as a sort of chorus; they alternatively were witnesses to Wong’s journey and participants in it. Set to Keith Jarrett’s spare, improvised piano jazz, the piece was full of elegant, surprising phrases, and threaded through with stillness.
An audience favorite was Valerie Huston’s “Classic Twists”-a gentle, playful riff on the formality of ballet and on what can happen when a little too much soul threatens to break through that formality. The dancers’ comic timing was spot on; in their black tutus, they seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience.
The show featured a revival of Lar Lubovitch’s 1977 work “Marimba.” As the company’s 10 dancers swirled, whirled, jogged, and lilted to music by famed postmodern composer Steve Reich, each movement motif evolved seamlessly from the one before it. And as these gentle, totally present young souls swirled through the piece’s intricate patterns without hesitation, everyone in the room seemed to fall into a reverie-broken, in the end, by enthusiastic applause at the evening’s conclusion.