There are lots of lies thrown around in Danceworks Performance Company’s new show, Lying, but none of them are more powerful than the good old American myth of self-reliance. In guest choreographer Amii LeGendre’s I didn’t mind being alone. I just hated it, which opened and set the tone for the evening, the signature gesture starts with arms open and ready for an embrace. But as the dancer turns at the waist, rotating into a profile, one hand flexes and tightens into a fist, the arms curl into a classic strong-man pose. Vulnerability and need transform into a mask of strength. And the text, running throughout the piece, reinforces the theme: “It’s okay, you can drop me off here. I’m good at being alone.” (LeGendre uses lines from a Jonathan Safron Foer story, which inspired the piece). The five dancers incorporate the strong-man bit with movement and arrangements that suggest the power of isolation. Throughout the piece, performers become an ersatz audience, looking curiously at other dancers as they move. Until, finally, Simon Eichinger is alone, fixed against the back wall by the stares of the real audience, nervously insisting that he’ll be just fine by himself.
The seven other pieces on the program tackle other lies and misdemeanors. Melissa Anderson’s Tango’d Web of Lies presents a rondele of the suspicions and deflections that creep into relationships (“It was only a business lunch”), danced to crisp tango moves by two couples. Karly Biertzer’s solo, Lipstick on My Lies, starts with crossed fingers behind the back, and expands into various facial expressions that suggest, as Huck Finn would say, “real stretchers.” Christal Wagner’s One or Two Faces inflects a perfectly synched latin-jazz duet (Wagner and Kim Johnson-Rockafellow) with occasional sneers and sniping between performers. Brent Radeke’s beautifully danced Progression takes off from a set of gestures that enact a piece of text about human progress, or the lack thereof.
But the evening wasn’t all mendacity. DPC reprised the gorgeously romantic Landing is Hard duet featuring Eichinger and Johnson-Rockafellow. And Dani Kuepper’s Embellishment closed the program with the kind of vigorous and satisfyingly complex pure movement that has become her trademark. Throughout the 90-minute show, the Danceworks crew was almost flawless in execution. Unison passages were tight and charged. And individual dancers found precision and grace through the whole gamut of the varied choreography. The Danceworks company just gets better and better. And that’s no lie.