The Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) roared Thursday night into the Annenberg Center, demonstrating the impressive technique and charisma of its dancers - and an odd taste in programing.
Though each of the four short works on the bill was by a different choreographer, too many of the steps seemed the same, and too often there were tricks (such as quadruple pirouettes) that had no apparent reason for being there other than to prompt the audience to clap - which it did, enthusiastically and often. Also, the two middle works were about death, which diminished the impact of both pieces.
Still, the company was in fine fettle. DTH's 14 dancers (a handsome group of folks from Brazil, South Korea, Australia, and across the United States - although, ironically, no one from New York) handled themselves with aplomb.
Two very different duets were among the highlights. An adagio from Darrell Grand Moultrie's Vessels, danced by Chyrstyn Fentroy and Jorge Andrés Villarini, was all about languorously unfolding limbs, melting poses, and playful flirtation. Later, Ulysses Dove's "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven" featured a gorgeous segment performed by Choong Hoon Lee and someone who might have been Dylan Santos (it was impossible to tell from the printed program). The two men executed unexpected catches and holds, at one point sinking into a spectacular, slow-motion, unison split.
Another especially noteworthy company member was Ingrid Silva, petite and self-assured, with wonderfully springy jumps, and attitude to spare - especially in the last work on the bill: Return, by Philadelphia native - and DTH resident choreographer - Robert Garland. The other clear standout was Da'Von Doane, extremely effective both as a comic presence and - in Christopher Huggins' In the Mirror of Her Mind - an attentive partner to the superb Nayara Lopes.