Hang on

Pub date September 24, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionDance

REVIEW Sometimes dance is so dense, so fast-paced, or so convoluted you can’t grasp what the heck the choreographer had in mind. So you throw in the towel and go along for the ride. Such was the case with the Sept. 18 performance by Robert Moses’ Kin at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The clearest of the three pieces on view, Approaching Thought, showcased most cogently why Moses’ reputation has been growing by leaps and bounds: he creates intriguing ensemble opportunities for individually strong performers. If steroid-pumped dancing shaped into formal cohesion is your cup of chai, Moses is your man. In Thought, Moses first introduced three couples individually, then let them loose into a hurricane of flips, kicks, hops, and rebounding meltdowns. They watched each other or provided backup as if in a ballet — or a rock concert. Newcomers Caitlin Kolb impressed with her integration of gymnastics into dance; Brendan Barthel, with his attack and the softest of feline jumps.

The world premiere, Toward September, could be considered the son of Thought. With nine dancers, volatile connections became more fleeting, but the web they spun was also messier. Circle, line, and star patterns periodically linked the dancers. In the second half, something like lyricism lit up a duet between Kolb and Barthel. But at a half-hour, September couldn’t sustain itself, not even with this talented group. Jokes Like That Can Get You Killed was too subtle for its own good. Dealing with the slippery topic of appropriate and inappropriate language — it’s a Stanford commission — the work was overloaded with visual, aural, and movement information. But Austin Forbord’s visuals — consisting of bobbing heads of every persuasion — were fun.

Moses collaged the program’s music primarily from online sources — which must have felt like browsing a candy shop. But the choreographer grabbed too much and made it into far too little.