A woman in a long dress and fur stole solemnly sleepwalks, her gown ornamented by a train of golden baby dolls. A tall man in a black suit runs frantically forward and backward, pinned by the glare of a harsh footlight.
Prometheus Dance's provocative new "Dreams," given its world premiere last night to a packed house at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, is rich in the kind of fantastical imagery that informs our most fanciful nighttime flights. Choreographed by company artistic directors Diane Arvanites-Noya and Tommy Neblett, the work mines the fertile world that unfolds each night as we sleep and is drawn in part from the actual dreams of company members. A multimedia collaboration involving dance, music, theatre, and video, it is set to an eclectic and colorful commissioned score by John Kusiak, who draws from a wide range of cultural influences and manages to make a synthesizer sound like a chamber orchestra.
Unlike many of Prometheus's full-evening works, which deal with sociological themes and tend to be narrative in structure, "Dreams" deals more in private fantasy, with collage-like imagery that unspools as a seamless series of short dances. They unfold before a brilliant white wall of 11 doors, uneven in height and width (and alas, underutilized), suggesting portals to the unconscious. The floor, also white, becomes a canvas for a variety of light patterns.
While the structure is a departure for the company, the movement aesthetic is tradement Prometheus -- rigorous athleticism complemented by vivid gestures tinged with an air of melodrama. It is a clever, compelling blend of the elegantly lyrical and the unceremoniously awkward.
Jason Dionne, dressed in geeky glasses and an orange tie, reads about moth reproduction while two women and a man roll on the floor, rapidly coupling and uncoupling. Ivan Korn somberly intones something in Spanish as he hobbles across stage on his knees.
Andy Taylor-Blenis, wearing a rustling satin ball gown, repeatedly runs around the room, throwing herself horizontally into the arms of three men, who gently roll her to the ground. Bodies encased in irridescent black tubes slither slug-like across the floor. There is a nightmarish prayer meeting set to a soulful gospel number, a playful romp with dancers in tiny grass skirts shaking and shimmying to a jazzy beat, and a cartoonish barroom brawl, with body slams and fake punches.
Bits and pieces spill forth with the fractured, disjointed feel of dreams. Unfortunately, that also translates to incohesive and largely incoherent. But it's entertaining and surprisingly lighthearted. And at only an hour and 15 minutes, it's never boring, perhaps fueled by the anticipation that just around the corner, something may happen to pull it all together.
One of the most satisfying moments comes at the end, a sweeping full company dance of swirling turns and liquid lunges, with Kusiak's music giving it a Middle Eastern feel. Though it is gorgeous to watch, it's not particularly dreamlike. But then, little of the work resonates with any dreams I've ever had. Except for maybe the doors -- all those doors leading nowhere.
Presented by Prometheus Dance
At: the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, last night, repeats tonight, tomorrow night, and next weekend