ALBANY — Choreographer Brian Brooks finds beauty in simplicity. A whirl of an arm, a hop and a run all enhance his vision. So too do the lines and circles that define, and ultimately intensify, the liquid flow of the Brian Brooks Moving Company.
The troupe’s show on Sunday night in UAlbany’s “In the Raw” series was unique. In it, Brooks and company stripped down the trappings of theatricality, revealing the dance makers clean structure. In a showcase of five unencumbered works in the black box theater in the Performing Arts Center, Brooks shared revivals of older works as well as his newest project, “Division.”
Expected to premiere at the Joyce Theater in June, “Division” was incomplete. However, Brooks was giving the dance an airing here to gauge audience reaction.
Like many of his works, “Division” was a delicious melt of dancers swirling about each other seamlessly. What sets “Division” apart, however, were large rectangular boards that sliced and diced the space.
As the dancers began, they entered in a line, pushing their boards across the floor. As the line dissolved, the boards carved squiggles and braids. As the dancers intersected, they swung their boards up and over their heads, creating walls that forced fellow dancers to change direction. The dancers also swapped boards, as if engaged in some mysterious, but orderly activity. All of it both pushed and impeded progress – laying down boundaries in the space and for the dancers.
But “Division,” to music by Jerome Begin, was only slightly interesting.
More engaging were his other group works – “Descent” and “Torrent.”
“Descent,” set to music by Adam Crystal, gently rose and fell until it came to rest with the ensemble of six in a pile.
“Torrent” was better still. Set to a remix of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by Max Richter, the dancers enthralled the audience with churning waves of bodies that crisscrossed the stage.
While these dancers — eight in all — were fine movers, it was Brooks himself who stole the show. In “I’m Going to Explode,” Brooks, dressed in suit and tie, twitched robotically at lightning speed to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge.” A disciplined mover, Brooks intrigued as he wobbled, jerked and fell to his knees with intensity and focus. His fervent investment in this psychological portrait of a businessman struggling in a highly competitive world compelled the audience to follow.
He was also terrific in the duet “Motor,” which he performed with Matthew Albert. A salute to the runner, “Motor” had the two hopping on one leg as their upper bodies slowly shifted into the poses of a marathoner in the thick of a race. Though in slow motion, the rhythmic thump of their feet served as a heartbeat as they bounced this way and that. It was a feat of endurance and conformity.
While Brooks was exceptional in “Motor,” Albert looked under-rehearsed, unable to maintain total allegiance with his partner. But it was doubtful anyone could have matched Brooks’ marvelous perfection.