Group Motion Dance Company ended its 39th season with a Thursday and Friday run at the Arts Bank. Furthering the company's mission of international outreach, it included works by its founder, German-born Manfred Fischbeck, his daughter Laina Fischbeck, Olive Prince, Sylvana Cardell of Argentina, and Kun Yang Lin of Taiwan - the latter two now based in Philadelphia.
Leading a program of otherworldly, dreamlike works was Manfred Fischbeck's
. Eight red-and-black clad dancers, each wearing an iPod and a small speaker at the waist, led the audience into the theater. To J.S. Bach's unfinished
The Art of Fugue
, the dancers personified the fugue's "voices" with separately recorded soundtracks on the iPods. When those ended, the dancers carried on with their beats in silence until launching a second part, in which they repeated variations on a formalized box step to an electronic version of the Bach. It ended with the score projected on a screen by videographer Peter Price, and bearing a note written by a son of Bach, saying it was his father's final work.
The Capoeira martial-arts dance movement Laina Fischbeck has learned while living and working in France was evident in her
The Memory of the Mass
. To voices and music mixed by Price, dancers moved fitfully and artificially, as if prodded by electric shocks to wake and recall moments in past lives.
an intriguing solo choreographed and performed by Cardell, an overhead camera projected her image on a screen at the rear of the stage as she danced between the side stage wall and a black cloth filled with objects - money, a toy house, picture frames. The audience looked down on her projected image as she seemed to move along a precipice, about to fall into a pool of what could have been memories, wishes or nightmares.
Prince, who has graced Philadelphia's dance scene for only a few years, showed an excerpt from
Old Girl, New
, which will be seen at next winter's nEW Festival. In half-falling-off Victorian/Edwardian period dresses, Prince and three other women danced with angular, spasmodic movement in a feminist homage to Virginia Woolf, consoling, confronting, commingling and, finally, marching together.
Closing the program was Lin's disquieting
Emptiness of Snow
, a work inspired by the 2004 South Asia tsunami but represented by a wintry metaphor. Prince and another Group Motion regular, Lesya Popil, danced with John Luna, Jumatatu Poe and Hedy Wyland to Tibetan-bell meditation music. The five alternately performed movements as glacial as snow melting or as splintery as ice snapping off branches, and came to rest in curtsies deep as the voices of the Tuvan throat singers that ended the dance.