Liz Gerring’s she dreams in code began with enough velocity to lift even the most drained viewer out of a stupor, but it was the choreographer’s nimble and wise way with structure that kept us absorbed. As three dancers circumnavigated the stage in a run, for example, a fourth hurtled from the wings to bisect their circle, throwing the space’s volume into relief.
The steps had volume too. The six dancers, who gave their plain spoken moves a creamy texture, held their arms wide like wings and unfolded their legs from deep in their lower backs. When they put the brakes on a full-throttle advance – Gerring resembles Cunningham in the sudden stops and starts – their bodies caught the momentum. The arrested motion seemed to expand them.
The hour-long performance maintains a continuity of feeling even when it interrupts its progress. Each new pattern seems to be written into the preceding one – a triangle of dancers flattened on the floor into a surging phalanx, a line into a circle. As the dance’s title promises, there is a logic to the seeming non-sequiturs.
Gerring, who lives in New York, has presented work here for almost two decades, but only recently has it garnered attention. (In November, her troupe will enjoy its Fall for Dance debut at City Center – a big step up.) Her anachronistic faith in abstraction has probably not helped. And even she seems to wonder whether movement and spatial design suffice. In dreams, she hedges her bets with male-female duets that belong to another system of meaning entirely, even when they augment the usual romance with exciting experiments in gravity – the woman literally falling out of the man’s arms. Worse still are the Enya moments in long-time collaborator Michael Schumacher’s score and the Hallmark landscapes in Willy Le Maitre’s atmospheric video backdrop.
But when the extra-choreographic elements are not derailing the dance and Gerring trusts the choreography to speak for itself – which is the only way it can speak, really – She Dreams in Code achieves the farthest reach. It was hard not to feel an ache of recognition each time a pattern came into sharpest focus only as it was disappearing into something else.