Curtain up, and five dancers burst into movement on a barren stage, their rust-colored culottes swaying vibrantly against a blue-flooded cyclorama. At once angular and rhythmic, their shifting bodies dart low and high, the bounce of their cheerful ponytails belying a mounting tension burning just below the surface of their sharp gestures.
The first of Nebula Dance Lab’s triptych at the Lobero Theatre, Emily Tatomer’s “Matter Out of Place — Spitting Dirt” set the tone for what was to be a thoughtfully curated body of work for the company’s sixth season. The evening flowed seamlessly with “Rogue Planets,” Meredith Cabaniss’s quietly methodical vision of four individuals on the precipice of enlightenment. Dancer Ashley Kohler-Reynolds shined through the imposing glare of the stage’s foot strobes, injecting Cabaniss’s contemporary ballet with seasoned deliberation and lingering interludes.
The company’s centerpiece offering, “The Inquisitor,” had all of the whimsy and charm of an anecdotal fable, with live musical accompaniment and luscious backdrops framing each idiosyncratic character through their enduring quest for the answers to life. The residual spirit of the 600 schoolchildren who had filled the theater earlier that afternoon reminded me of dance theater’s lasting ability to captivate the singular joy of storytelling, observing movement through the looking glass of youthful delight.