Nacre Dance has always maintained a balance between historic dances and new works. It’s a wise template for the performing ensemble as lovers of art and history find the roots of modern dance fascinating while new works keep audiences and artists fresh and alert.
But finding local choreographers to build repertory can be a challenge. Thus, this past November, Artistic Director Beth Hartle Fecteau staged “So You Think You Can Choreograph.” The competition, which appealed to a popular audience (something dance is continually seeking), let the public decide which new works should be adopted into the Nacre repository. They chose two: Jessie Sector’s “Axiom” and Diane Lachtrupp’s “RAVE: breath, pulse, touch.” Both works had their official Nacre premieres on Saturday night at the Spa Little Theatre, but that was about the only thing these two had in common.
Sector’s “Axiom” was quirky and fun, while Lachtrupp’s “RAVE” was elegant and romantic. They also parted ways in their readiness. Only “Axiom” felt prepared for an unveiling. The dancers in “RAVE,” unfortunately, appeared unsteady and unsure. The intended flow, to the surging sounds of Mood Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” likely imagined by Lachtrupp, landed as jittery. Part of the problem was the stage, which was too small for 10 dancers who rose and fell in a swell of lovely lifts that surged with the music.
Still, “RAVE,” with its dancers in black and white, has the potential to be a hypnotic journey. With more rehearsal and a larger stage to absorb its scope, “RAVE” is worth a second look. Lachtrupp might also consider expanding the ripened version to a larger and lush creation as “RAVE” oozed hidden possibilities.
“Axiom,” set to the percussive “My Rainbow” by Goldfish, was a curious creation that, the program noted, “explores the role of confusion as a means of understanding ourselves in today’s world.” Yet the dance came off as a wacky wandering into a world of crazed poultry. The dancers walked about in small steps with bent knees and waists with their forearms resting on their thighs. Immediately, an image of a chicken scratching in a yard came to mind.
The quintet of dancers interacted with each other in ways that a chicken never would, however. They carried each other and did somersaults over each other’s backs. The piece, though odd, was mildly pleasing because of its unconventional nature.
The best part of the night was devoted to the oldest of dances — Isadora Duncan’s “Bacchanal, Ballet Suite from Iphigenie en Aulis” (1910) and Doris Humphrey’s “Air for the G String” (1928). Duncan’s romp in the forest for nymphs glowed with exuberance. Skipping and throwing their heads back, the dancers embodied the ecstatic freedom that Duncan personified.
“Air for the G String,” a work that Nacre staged at its very first performance, was presented with the dignity and respect it deserves. Led by Mary Beth Hampshire and set to Bach’s music, the calm and lovely dance paid tribute to the unseen spirit that guides our better nature.