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A balletomane at a modern dance performance sometimes feels as though he's watching tennis with the net down; the absence of a standard vocabulary makes it hard to judge if the dancers know what they're doing. At other times, it looks like ballet in bare feet, and you wonder what the point is. But neither was the case last weekend at Symphony Space, where Zvidance put on a program of recent and new works, all new to these eyes. This is a company with a style of its own, and dancers who have the technique to show it off.

Israeli-American choreographer Zvi Gotheiner, who looks like a small-college football player, has a vocabulary of muscular, down-to-earth moves, and a senior dancer who models them to perfection. Elisa King is the antithesis of a ballerina, with a low center of gravity, muscular thighs and powerful haunches. She looks like she could run the marathon backwards, which is practically what Gotheiner asks her to do in the signature piece of the evening, "Lapse." King, followed by most of the company, spends much of the time circling the stage in a brisk backwards trot, occasionally turning to run forward at the same pace. The effect is of a magic circle that mirrors Scott Killian's driving, repetitive sound score. I must confess that I spent most of my time watching the runners, and ignoring the expressive solos and duets that were going on in the center; I was so taken with King's steady, even pace and seemingly limitless fuel supply. This is a dancer with a perfect balance of energy and equilibrium. She showed the latter to breathtaking effect in another piece, an excerpt from "Interiors," choreographed for a woman, a potted plant, and a glass water jug. In one repeated move, King revolves away from the plant, passing the jug behind her back as she moves so that it remains in the same place, the water barely rippling.

The other excerpt from "Interiors" was made for a man, a woman, and a chair. Todd Allen and Ying Ying Shiau wrapped themselves around it and each other in every imaginable way, and wound up standing on the chair in a calm, affectionate embrace. This seems to be the essence of Gotheiner's choreography. Most of it is done in pairs, usually but not always a male and female. The interaction is close, with lots of wreathing and writhing of limbs around the partner. It's erotic but not exclusively or essentially so; it has as much to do with boxing or wrestling as sex. This are people involved with each other in complex ways, and their issues do not seem to be resolved by the artist. Who knows? It might have something to do with the choreographer's middle eastern roots, in a place where relationships and enmities are thousands of years old and still unresolved. In any case, it's satisfying, real stuff.

The one mistake on the program, in my opinion, was a premiere called "Easy For You To Say." This featured dancers vocalizing, shutting each other up, and exchanging cryptic spoken comments amid a Shostakovitch score. They didn't have much to say, which I guess was the point, since it ended with one dancer summarizing the script as "Words, words, words, words." My advice: stick to dancing.

Edited by Alexandra

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