The Houston Metropolitan Dance Company celebrated its birthday last Friday with "15 on the 15th", but it was the audience that received the gift. Nearly three hours of explosive dance were accented by video interviews with choreographers, making for an insightful performance. The Met's come a long way, and they made no pretense about showing it off.
Every piece in the show exuded ingenuity -- those who thought the human body could move only a finite number of ways had to have learned a few things. The first piece, "ForeverFleeting" by Joe Celej, was the show standout. The dancers flowed together with flawless cohesion, while a soloist explored the angst of solitude. In the second movement, a trio with elastic bands tied to their ankles and hands ensnared the soloist in their chaotic web, but it was only affected chaos: the dancers shaped the elastic expertly.
For a celebration though, this was no frivolous affair. Of seven total works, the first four were seriously heavy. A solo work by john r stronks called "crossing in the dark of night kicking and screaming..." explored the death rituals of different cultures. In "Consumed" by Kate Skarpetowska, dancers clad in suits and white collared shirts threw themselves angrily to an ominous beat. (One even jumped off the stage suicide-style into the orchestra pit, only to crawl back on at the end in his tightie whities.) Another piece, "light before sound" by Jason Parsons, was inspired by 9/11 and the turmoil and rebuilding that followed.
It wasn't until Kiki Lucas's "together alone" that the first smiles appeared onstage. Rose-hued and airy, the jazz piece was at first jarring in comparison to the rest of the weighty repertoire. By the end though, the audience was smiling too, enjoying the lighter side of the Met free from death and burning buildings. The evening closed with the biggest surprise of all: "Hyperbola" by Spencer Gaving Hering, which staged a beautifully lit alien abduction to classical music. The Met has clearly mastered artistry and creativity. If you didn't catch them Friday, don't wait another 15 years.