Dance Review

As a Jones dance sampler, ‘Summer Reunion’ a mixed bag

Seán Curran and company took part in the alumni performance. Seán Curran and company took part in the alumni performance. (Julieta Cervantes)
By Jeffrey Gantz
Globe Correspondent / July 18, 2011

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It’s a little early to speak of Bill T. Jones’s legacy; he’s only 59, after all. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is already 29, however, and it has spawned many dancers who have gone on to choreograph and form companies of their own.

Six of those alumni - Arthur Aviles, Alexandra Beller, Seán Curran, Lawrence Goldhuber, Heidi Latsky, and Andrea E. Woods - have gathered at the Institute of Contemporary Art this weekend, under the auspices of the ICA and Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy, for “Summer Reunion,’’ in which they present their works as a kind of sampler of Jones’s influence.

Ambition is not wanting here, but sometimes, as in Jones’s own work, less would be more. Goldhuber makes a virtue of moving in his own big-man way; it’s funny when, at the beginning of his “Trellis’’ excerpt, he “runs’’ in place, arms pumping, feet immobile. When he’s joined by Roy Fialkow, however, this relationship piece becomes increasingly literal (there’s even Greco-Roman wrestling), and it’s hard to know how seriously to take the soundtrack when it shifts into Skeeter Davis singing “The End of the World.’’

Jeffrey Freeze fares better in Latsky’s “Grace,’’ created in 1989 to honor Arnie Zane. To a heartbeat rhythm (with faint intrusions of what sound like Hildegard von Bingen’s nuns), he invokes the heavens as he uncannily evokes Zane; as the heartbeat grows more agitated, the energy of the universe seems to course through him. The “Aria’’ half of excerpts from Curran’s “Aria/Apology’’ is a thing of Baroque beauty, Elizabeth Coker Giron and David Gonsier engaging in a formal mating dance as Renée Fleming sings Handel, “V’adoro pupille’’ (from “Giulio Cesare’’) and “Lascia ch’io pianga’’ (from “Rinaldo’’).

The rest is less rewarding. Beller’s “egg’’ opens with an endearing image - Beller as an expectant mother (she is pregnant) on the floor pushing an egg with her nose - but in the end, there are too many eggs and too much verbiage.

Woods’s solo “Kujichagulia to the Max/Self Determination to the Max’’ doesn’t get the max out of its Max Roach inspiration. The six-minute film, “Brooding Angels,’’ introducing Aviles’s “Elysian Fields’’ scarcely clarifies the bedlam of the Orpheus-and-Eurydice-inspired episode that follows. Aviles himself offers one of the best moves of the evening when, at the end of his concluding movement tribute to Jones, he simply jumps into Goldhuber’s arms.

SUMMER REUNION Presented by Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy and the Institute of Contemporary Art

At: Institute of Contemporary Art, Friday night

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