Dance Collective gala marks troupe's 10th year

by Christine Temin

At Boston University Theatre, Saturday. Dance Collective gave itself a 10th birthday present over the weekend, the kind of expensively produced gala performance more usually put on by ballet companies than by small, impoverished modern troupes. The Boston-based ensemble, led by its four choreographers, Judith Chaffee, Martha Armstrong Gray, Dawn Kramer, and Ruth Wheeler, was in splendid shape for the occasion, obviously enjoying the chance to perform in the beautifully equipped BU Theater instead of the usual church basement or college gym.

Rather than doing a retrospective, Great Moments of the Collective program, the choreographers chose to offer their latest works, including two premieres: Gray's "Seasonal Yields" and Kramer's "Blue Cheer." …

Kramer's "Blue Cheer," another dance with a strong theme, escaped this pitfall by creating violent mood swings. The idea here was the tyranny of laundry over womankind. The trio - Kramer, Ann Brown Allen and Clara Ramona - were the antithesis of the bright and bubbly housewives of detergent ads. Listless and burdened, they flung laundry into the appropriate pile; occasionally they froze in mid-fling, as if unable to face the idea of sorting even one more sock. Their downtrodden outlook was unmistakable as they sang the famous lyric "To hold a man in your arms is wonderful," while clutching dirty clothes to their bosoms. But they rebelled. The dance heated up, with the help of Blues singer Merle Perkins and pianist Evan Harlan, and became a liberating storm concluding as the dancers threw laundry into the audience. Kramer never camped up her theme; when the dancers threw the laundry, it was just one piece each, and that restraint was critical to the overall shape and flow of the dance.

Of the other works on the program, Kramer's "Intervals of Heavy Rain" best combined a concept and inventive movement. A duet for the choreographer and the brawny Carlo Rizzo, "Intervals" also featured a banana and an umbrella, but as with "Blue Cheer," these whimsical touches didn't mean the dance was merely cute. Indeed, "Intervals" had the forward thrust of a saintly mission, pushing across stage in twisted, odd shapes; robotlike, staccato sequences; and a final, heavy resolution.

TEMIN ® Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company