City in Motion Dance Theater presented a combination of poignancy, tension and humor in its professional company concert Saturday at the H&R Block City Stage. Creating works for contemporary dance for more than 30 years, the company engaged with emotive movement and eclectic vocabulary.
Krystal Bryan’s “Reciprocal Pulse” was constructed from a series of manipulated angles, the bodies contorted into poses, pressing and lifting each other at shoulders and knees, against a thumping, jangly beat and rhythms of Indian vocal percussion.
“Syrinx,” the first of three solos choreographed by artistic co-director Andrea Skowronek, featured dancer Mallory Gittemeier in wafting movements, contrasted to a sequence of strong gestures and jagged arabesque, ending on a wilting pose.
The visceral grind of distortion and metallic glissandi served François Des Marteau’s “Approaching Paradise,” the dancers seemingly caught out, searching the distance, waving frantically, the phrases cut short as they quivered, wretched and twitched, conveying desperation.
Skowronek’s “Atonement” was an audience favorite, featuring Des Marteau as soloist in a strong, committed performance, exhibiting control in extended stretches and segmented, disjointed movements.
Artistic co-director Stephanie Whittler’s “Fractured Embrace” showed a protective, empathetic quality and keen visual sense with maroon costumes against blue lighting. Interesting pairings and the patterns and layering in the group sequences inventively structured the work.
A multi-movement work from Amanda January, “Zott,” featured a variety of Spanish dance styles in a humorous performance, with shouts of “eso” and “olé.” At first, the company playfully cowered behind a fierce, fan-snapping lead dancer, their own fans malfunctioning as they tried to emulate. The elements of flamenco — swirling shawls, twisting wrists, a mimicked banderillero stance, and stamping feet — provided a palette to explore, though some interesting ideas were not fully realized, such as the use of castanets.
Skowronek’s final contribution to the program, “Abulations,” was performed by January, as something akin to a bathing ritual, playful and intimate.
The final work started in silence, the company slowly swaying as the start of Muriel Cohen’s “Groove.” A dancer tried to break through the group and is pulled back; another tried and the group dragged her back, too, in a creepy, morphing opening segment. The piece built on this sense of discord. An aggressive trio presented some nicely-constructed risky moves, contrasting to a rolling, tortured solo.
The full group assembled again, back in the groove for a fast-paced finish and a final collapse, completing an enjoyable, creative show.
2 p.m. April 30. H & R Block City Stage, Union Station. $15 (students/seniors)-$18, $25 at the door. http://www.cityinmotion.org/.