It was something old and something new from two of Philadanco's favorite choreographers when the company opened its "Choreographers on the Move" program at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on Friday night.
The program is about power and precision, and the 48-year-old company — which performs in its hometown only a few times a year — looked strong dancing the works of Christopher Huggins and Milton Myers.
Myers, contemporary-program director at Jacob's Pillow and Juilliard instructor, first set Pacing on Philadanco in 1986 to the music of Francis Bebey. But even a work more than 30 years old had some elements choreographers focus on today, such as men partnering each other.
The women dance in small, coordinated movements, then fly in seemingly effortless leaps. The men gather and move like segments of a single organism.
In a particularly beautiful section, Rosita Adamo is partnered by two men, Victor Lewis Jr. and William E. Burden. She remains in arabesque as the men turn her. Their circle never stops moving as each man takes a turn leaving it to dance some solo steps and then returning.
Former Alvin Ailey dancer Christopher Huggins' When Dawn Comes, from 2013, is a lovely piece that opens and closes with four women curled up center stage as day breaks. In one surprising section, a delicate Adamo lifts and turns her much larger partner, Joe Gonzalez, before dropping him to the floor and stepping over him.
Myers is the first instructor at Juilliard to focus on the Horton modern dance technique, and his world premiere Waves explores it.
A piece for four women in black shorts unitards, it feels like a highly refined studio performance, a Horton sampler. Each dancer takes turns at a similar solo incorporating stretches and turns for an interesting lesson in how the technique can be applied to styles from staccato to sultry.
The piece is set to an original score by John Levis.
Closing the program is Huggins' world premiere, I Come as One, But Stand as 10,000, inspired by a line from a Maya Angelou poem and in honor of the women of the #metoo movement.
Set to original music by Darryl J. Hoffman, it is both lovely and at times harsh. Women rally around one of their own who is suffering, protecting her. Four men dance with one woman — Adamo — passing her among them as she struggles to get away. The work closes with an uplifting rally as the full company celebrates woman power.