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Zenon falls short of reputation 4/19/08

For 25 years Minneapolis’ Zenon Dance Company has entertained audiences with its grace, creative spirit and technical prowess. However, choreography in the company’s 25th anniversary spring concert failed to live up to its reputation.

The concert included two world premiers, “Hard Bargain? which featured Zenon’s men and “Where are these days, again?? featuring the women.

With an all male quartet and a title like “Hard Bargain? one expects the dancers to present their raw power and physical strength. This, however, was not the case. As the lights slowly rise, the audience sees Zenon’s four men dressed in seemingly 18th century garb – short dress-like shirts that not only reveal their chests but their rippling muscles, too. The choreography resembles that of young boys play fighting. The men humorously dance in one another’s faces, slap each other and then proceed to flex their arms.

The piece was lighthearted and fun. However, it was unclear if it was choreographer Sean Curran’s intention to twist audience expectations of what is considered “manly? dancing.

Aside from being painfully long, “Where are these days, again?? showed the versatility of Zenon’s four female dancers.

The piece featured the women in four unique solos. Amy Elaine Behm Thomson started the piece with arm and leg scissors which represented an inner frustration. Christine Maginnis twitched while she talked to herself in an obsessive compulsive manner. Mary Ann Bradley played with her wig and crawled on the floor as she spoke about a past memory. Tamara Ober ended the piece as she bellowed into a loudly amplified microphone.

While the piece proved that the women can act as well as dance, it also stereotyped them as hysterical women. The piece would have been stronger and more effective if each solo was half its length.

The three other pieces were dances from previous concerts. “The Secret Life of Walt and Kitty,? choreographed by Cathy Young in 2000, was flirtatiously funny. Dancers Behm Thomson and Gregory Waletski danced their version of the tango with a psychedelic, 1960s flare.

Circling a raised platform like stalking hunters, rolling and sliding across it in risky partnering moves, Waletski and Ober demonstrate another, more violent and erotic version of the tango in “Like An Octopus,? choreographed by Susana Tambutti in 1992.

The choreography was more dramatic and shocking than “The Secret Life.? For example, the piece ended when Waletski wrapped his arms around Ober’s neck and hung her off of the platform.

The last and final piece was Wynn Fricke’s “Garden.? The dancers’ movements, along with Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello,? transported the audience into a serene state of mind. The piece’s tranquility and charm nearly made up for the two-hour long disappointment.