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[whitespace] Dancers Pleasures of Desire: Willie Anderson and Holly Morrow as Othello and Desdemona.

Supple Cure

Margaret Wingrove's dances possessed a sensual grandeur

By Julia Chiapella

IF THE LANGUOR of love's dimensions were quantifiable, Margaret Wingrove would be in line for the job. Last weekend, the Margaret Wingrove Dance Company presented a program that did ample justice both to her dancers' talents and to her own supple choreography--choreography possessed of a sensual grandeur that was at times heart-wrenchingly familiar and at others bordered on provocative overload.

Centered around The Handkerchief, a five-part piece that chronicles passion gone awry, Wingrove meticulously and relentlessly pinned the heights and depths of love's ardor in four works that attempted to run the gamut from carnal to playful. And for the most part, she succeeded, missing an evening of heart-stopping dance only in a too-smooth, slightly distilled presentation--a barely negligible blip in the midst of so much impeccable dancing and so many moving characterizations.

Wingrove mined literary history to bring to the stage a canvas rich with the pleasures and pitfalls of desire. Foremost among these was Lori Seymour's portrayal of Edna St. Vincent Millay in Belle of Bohemia. Embodying a potent mixture of intellect and sensuality that perfectly articulated Millay's recorded poems and sonnets, Seymour traversed the spectrum from sexual to ecstatic. She exhibited a presence that, while intellectually objective, managed to revel in the depths of her own divine discoveries. Wingrove's choreography also included sections that were executed on the floor in a sometimes rolling, sometimes still exultation of primal and earthy passions.

It's a type of dance that contrasts with the balletic style of The Handkerchief, which closed the evening and featured Willie Anderson of Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley. Set to the music of Astor Piazzola's Five Tango Sensations as played by the Kronos Quartet, The Handkerchief follows the story of Othello as his love for Desdemona is betrayed by Iago. Anderson danced Othello with an anguished verve and, when paired with Holly Morrow as Desdemona, approached transcendence. They two were so perfectly aligned that a grand jeté done intertwined was of the same length and breadth, a flawless moment.

Anderson also performed a solo piece choreographed by Wingrove. Stand by Me was dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the events of Sept. 11, and Anderson was able to shake his ballet roots and dance with an undulating physicality. Also on the program were four shorts choreographed by Michael Howerton to the music of Nat King Cole as sung by Natalie Cole, a puzzling choice since Nat's own singing carried so much more vibrancy than his daughter's. That generational gap translated to the dancing as well. Although the dancers hit their marks and their limbs were extended to the full extent of the law, a certain bravado was missing that would have made these pieces imminently watchable. All in all, the Margaret Wingrove Dance Company presented an evening that reminded us of the power of dance to capture the ephemeral and transient, the very qualities that characterize dance itself.

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From the November 8-14, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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