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DANCE REVIEW

Prometheus shines in 'Full Moon,' others

In Prometheus Dance's new ``Dievas Mannu / Full Moon," snow falls and a pale light casts shadows of birch trees as hunters and hunted seem to intertwine in a mysterious nocturnal ritual. Initially, the seven dancers in white pants and skirted tunics evoke a herd of reindeer, prancing lightly, hands on head, fingers spread like antlers. With their quick shifts of focus, they call to mind animals in the wild, constantly alert to danger.

Yet just as easily they evolve into some ancient Nordic tribe in a circle dance accompanied by the jingle of ankle bells. Andy Taylor-Blenis dances a stiff-legged solo of turns and falls, her arms glued to her sides. A quintet clumps together, holding branches as cover and protective weaponry as another dancer crawls on all fours in a silent stalking.

Choreographed by Prometheus co-artistic directors Diane Arvanites-Noya and Tommy Neblett, ``Dievas Mannu" is a lovely, intriguing combination of the tame and the feral, set to the hauntingly exotic music of Finnish composer Wimme Saari. While his atmospheric electronics are infused with the mournful hoots, bays, howls, and growls of the natural world, modal vocals remind us that man is never far away.

Two other premieres graced the program at Boston Conservatory Theater. ``Troika," set to music by the eclectic Czech violinist-vocalist Iva Bittova , consists of two contrasting trios. In the first, Martha Stone, Ashley Williams, and Megan Schenk are rigorously athletic, flinging themselves through space, into one another's arms, and onto the floor with youthful abandon.

The second trio features Eleanor Duckworth, Joan Green, and Karen Klein, three members of Prometheus's Elders Ensemble of dancers age 60 to 85. Though this trio begins like the other, the energy is controlled, propelled more by friendly camaraderie and mature grace than by the competitive edge fueling the younger trio.

It's always a thrill to see Arvanites-Noya and Neblett dance together. Their duets reflect a striking artistic kinship, and the new ``Eyes Inside," set to the third movement of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 16, proceeds with a kind of elegiac, tender coupling. One always seems to be reaching out to the other as they come together and drift apart. Graceful lifts and supports play out through subtle shifts of weight and exchanges of energy. A head rests in an outstretched hand, an embrace doesn't release so much as evaporate. More abstract, less contextually provocative than past duets, ``Eyes Inside" feeds on the pleasure of the moment.

If you didn't know that Neblett's rousing ``La Giornata Omicida (The Deadly Day)" was a good 10 years old, you'd swear he was influenced by the show ``Alias." In their slinky red minidresses, black boots, and black bobbed wigs, the work's five dancers look like Sydney Bristow in her German punk guise. Sultry struts and vigorous stomp sequences are only briefly tempered by gestures of coy femininity.

The concert opened with one of the company's most memorable works, Arvanites-Noya's ``Crazy Girl," a vivid examination of rural life, with both its deadening routines and its communal joys.

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