Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall.

Low Radiation

Paul Wellman

The 14 dancers of Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2 (CND2), ages 18-21, are extraordinary movers-no doubt about it. Their supple, streamlined bodies effortlessly wrap around even the most demanding technique. And yet, there was something profoundly missing in much of their dancing, something that comes only with age or prodigious maturity. It isn’t easy to say exactly what that missing quality looks like. It’s a paradoxical state of losing oneself in the moment, and at the same time projecting one’s energy all the way to the last seat in the house. When CND2 danced, I could almost see plastic bubbles containing their lovely young bodies, preventing any true radiation from escaping.

of Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2
Paul Wellman

The choreography didn’t help. All three works on this program were by CND’s artistic director Nacho Duato, and though they came from different periods of his career, there was a disappointing sameness to them. The program opened with “Remansos,” an adaptation of Duato’s “Remanso,” originally choreographed for American Ballet Theatre in 1997. The vocabulary of long balletic lines, flexed feet, and twirling wrists gave way to sections of complex partner work, but musical literalism and cringe-worthy use of props-notably a fake red rose-gave the whole thing a juvenility that accentuated the dancers’ youth in unhelpful ways.

Next up was “Jard- Tancat,” Duato’s very first choreography, created on Nederlands Dans Theater II in 1983. In silence, lights rose on six dancers curled on the floor. Suddenly, they jumped to their feet and stomped in a circle, building rhythms with their footfalls. Unlike the other works in the program, “Jard- Tancat” possessed a classic modernism, with overtones of Lim³n, Graham, and Taylor, that lent it gravitas and emotional depth. In full skirts and pants and shirts of dusty, earthy colors, the dancers seemed transformed into Catalonian farmers, toiling and grieving under a hot sun.

Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2
Paul Wellman

Ironically, “Coming Together” was marked more by its lack of coherence than any other quality. The repetitive cacophonous score begged for abstraction and energy, and though Duato delivered the latter, odd costumes distracted from the driving momentum: a sequined bodice on one dancer, flowing dresses on others.

This young company looked its age, and seemed saddled with choreography that did little to help, and yet their enthusiasm and dedication were unmistakable-one young woman’s facial expressions alone nearly carried me away on a cloud of pure, vicarious joy.

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