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Caitlin Corbett Dance Company

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All-female dance ensembles nearly always look as though they're lacking something, but that's not the case with the Caitlin Corbett Dance Company. Corbett's favored cast -- in four of her six pieces presented May 7 at Boston University -- was a cluster of five or six women who move in dynamic, muscular fashion, usually in subgroups of two or three. Dancing in parallel, shifting formations, they make their mark with powerful turning leaps, falls, kicks, and thrusts of the upper body. Female power is the engine here, but it's not exclusively or even typically female; it's the kick of the human being against the obstacles and frustrations of life. And unlike much pusillanimous modern dance, this choreography has the dancers not just succumbing, but punching through.

The most powerful piece on the program was a premiere, "Little Known Facts," a sextet set to a pastiche of spoken words and quirky songs by The Books, with a video of home movies and vintage newsreel material. The video, assembled by Ann Steuernagel, begins and ends with a black-and-white silent film of an avalanche coming down a mountain. It's an apt metaphor for the forces Corbett is invoking: natural, beautiful, and dangerous.

The six dancers caught all aspects of it, in a performance that built in intensity to a typically perverse Corbett conclusion. At the end, all but a couple of dancers clear out, and the two are left in shadows, with the avalanche descending, and a woman's voice that says, in a tone of hurt resignation, "He really thought he could just stop." (Or something close to that.) The aftereffect is one of powers let loose, inevitable and uncontrollable, and ultimately tragic.

Outstanding among the dancers were the diminutive dynamo Kaela Lee, her whiplash movements set off by the softer and more generous gestures of Meghan McLyman, and the fierceness of tall, wiry Alissa Cardone.

Also on the bill was a new duet for a man and a woman, Victor Tiernan and Nicole Pierce, that was supposed to be a contrast of male and female torsos in Corbett's typical parallel movement. However, the experiment fell victim to Boston's bluenose traditions. Somebody freaked out upon learning there was to be full frontal female toplessness, so Pierce had to perform in a brassiere. The censorship literally obscured the point of the piece, and maybe of the whole program: that women are indeed different from men, but they can do nearly everything that men can, and in many cases are more interesting to watch.

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