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Sinuous 'Forgotten' is rich with imagery

Bodies twist and stretch together in "It's All Forgotten Now." (Randall Collura)

CAMBRIDGE -- Blink, and you could almost miss it. But the creative seeds for Kelley Donovan's new evening-length dance "It's All Forgotten Now" begin to germinate in the choreographer/dancer's brief opening solo.

Though it seems to go by in a heartbeat, it's a blistering microcosm of the whole piece, and it's all about transformation. You can see it in the sinuous coils of limbs that seem to twist completely around, like a snake shedding its skin. And with each torque of the arm or leg, the body is pulled in a different direction. A full-figured dancer with remarkable suppleness, speed, and control, Donovan is a commanding presence, shifting weight and dynamic impulse with quicksilver lightness and precision.

Donovan created the 45-minute work in New York City last fall, taking time off from her teaching gigs here with the help of a Harkness Space Grant from the 92nd Street Y to assemble a group of dancers who worked together off and on for four months. After the January premiere of the work in New York, 11 of them traveled to join Donovan for the work's Boston-area debut. At the Dance Complex over the weekend, "It's All Forgotten Now" was revealed as one of Donovan's most ambitious and sustained works to date.

There's no narrative and little context, save what we know from the subtitle: "An evening-length dance exploring transformation, decay and memory." It flows through constant metamorphoses -- movements erupting, developing, tossed off then recalled and transformed moments later. A sparse original electronic soundscape of buzzes, crackles, whirs, gurgles, and rumbles by Stephen Cooper and Punck sets the tone: This is not a linear creation. It's more that we are dropping in on a series of moments happening with or without our presence.

"It's All Forgotten Now" is rich with imagery. Arms reach and fingers wriggle as if beckoning. Hands clasp, then spring apart as if bursting into bloom. Bodies lengthen, stretching out luxuriously, then retract as if recoiling from a full blast of heat or light. Backs, shoulders, and heads release into deeply arched postures of abandon.

Donovan's talented dancers, who collaboratively created much of the movement, alternate between moving in their own circumscribed orbits and coming together as a community. In a couple of sections, they slowly, respectfully encircle a lone dancer, framing her individual journey like some time-honored ritual. In other sections, they break into a high-energy flurry of entrances and exits, running in circles at near full speed , throwing themselves into deep lunges and manic spins, spiraling to the floor before sailing off into the wings.

The evening's greatest disappointment is that we don't see more of Donovan. After the initial solo, she has only one other brief, intense dance midway. As the work evaporates into darkness at the end, I found myself asking, "Is that all?"


It's All Forgotten Now

Kelley Donovan & Dancers

At: the Dance Complex, Saturday night