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Premieres aplenty in Boston Dance Theater program

"Memories" was tied together by the women’s brilliant red slip dresses, dramatic lighting, and Itzik Galili's distinctive aesthetic.BOSTON DANCE THEATER

It’s been less than two years since Boston Dance Theater made its debut, but the company made enough of an impression to garner major support from Global Arts Live — not once, but twice, an impressive coup for co-directors Jessie Jeanne Stinnett and Dutch-Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili. Friday night’s program backed up this artistic imprimatur with three newly commissioned world premieres and a US premiere. While not as choreographically memorable and diverse as last year’s program, the dancers continue to impress with committed, technically skilled performances. The company’s core of five women — Stinnett, plus Olivia Coombs, Jen Passios, Tahimy Miranda, and apprentice Gabriela Amy-Moreno — were complemented by three very capable and expressive male dancers.

Three of the works featured spoken text, the most cogent being Galili’s contribution. The world premiere of his retrospective “Memories” fuses movement ideas from more than 60 pieces choreographed for companies around the world, from Ballets Jazz de Montreal to Stuttgart Ballet. One might have expected a bit of a hodgepodge, but in fact the work flowed vividly, tied together by the five women’s brilliant red slip dresses, dramatic lighting, and Galili’s distinctive aesthetic.


There’s a molten lushness to the choreographer’s movements that make them look as if they would be physically satisfying to perform. Luxurious stretches unfurl reaching, coiling limbs and undulating torsos. One section features repeated pulsing, as if the dancers are barely containing wracking sobs, arms breaking free with gestures that wave and slice. Another section provides context, as a dancer recites a litany of things she can’t erase — anger, disappointment, time, memories. …The final moments unleash a gripping percussive rigor, sending the dancers into sharp lines and layered formations. Though precision suffered just a bit, the energy was dazzling.

Los Angeles-based choreographer Micaela Taylor calls her combination of contemporary modern technique and hip-hop “contemporary pop.” Her quartet “I had a thought” explored our society’s tendency toward near constant distraction. Striking movement veered between the robotic and the feral, punctuated by sharp-edged isolations and reptilian swivels of the head. Walks turned into slides, and extensions and lunges often plunged to the floor. But while intriguing in concept, the work became frustrating in practice as sequences (and music) were rudely interrupted, and a stuttering text made it all a little too literal.


Shannon Gillen’s “Women on the Verge,” set to gorgeous vocal music by composers David Lang and Mary Montgomery Koppel (recorded by Boston’s all-female Lorelei Ensemble), portrayed notions of hysteria. Individual phrases of thrown, off-kilter turns and thrashing alternated with moments of connection between the four women — an embrace, a guided walk, a supported collapse. Some sequences suggested the weight exchange of contact improvisation, with eye-catching lifts sending contorted shapes cartwheeling end over end.

Marco Goecke fueled his game-like “Peekaboo” (2013) with quixotic mechanical isolations and gestures. Jutting, sharp-angled limbs topped zigzag steps, kicks, and skitters. Bowler hats hid faces, and at one point, two hats took a humorous turn about the stage all by themselves. It was a bit like a playful romp of wind-up toys on overdrive.


Presented by Global Arts Live at Institute of Contemporary Art through Dec. 15. Tickets $36-$40, 617-876-4275, www.globalartslive.org

Karen Campbell can be reached at karencampbell4@rcn.com.