BodyTraffic, founded by Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett in Los Angeles in 2007, may bear a name suggestive of LA freeway congestion, but the fast-moving program presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art on Friday knew no speed limit. The troupe’s 10 dancers are equally athletic, balletic, and poetic, and the trio of works showed off their mastery of disparate idioms.
Barak Marshall’s “And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square . . . ” is a dark tale that fuses Chagall and García Lorca. Like Marshall’s “Harry,” the piece is highly gestural in the Pina Bausch mode, with spoken interjections. The bride (Berkett) stood forlornly in a spotlight holding a bouquet while a village clock struck 10. Over the ensuing half-hour, the piece’s five women suffered through a contentious relationship with its five men. They did enjoy a sequence where they primped and posed and jawed at the audience (“Whatcha lookin’ at?”) to the Barry Sisters’ “Chiribim Chiribom.” But for the most part, they were disrespected and manhandled, and it was no surprise that, after the groom (Guzmán Rosado) appeared, the wedding ended badly.
“And at midnight” was inspired by Marshall’s mother, the Yemenite-Israeli performer Margalit Oved. I wonder whether it wouldn’t have been even better with the narration she provided the piece in its original form.
MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham’s “Kollide” has a recurring image in which an outsider woman — the piece is set on two men and three women — orbits a couple like an astral body threatening a collision. The mostly slow ambient score from Icelanders Hildur Guðnadóttir and Valgeir Sigurðsson wasn’t memorable, and the image of what looked like falling sand projected on set designer Dan Scully’s five vertical panels was hardly original. But I liked Abraham’s take on canonic movement, in which the dancers seemed to be improvising the details.
Richard Siegal’s “o2Joy” is a jazz lollipop that invites dancers to strut their stuff. Rosado capped a high-energy solo with a zippy manège of coupé-jeté turns. Berkett shimmied to Billie Holiday singing “On the Sunny Side of the Street”; Andrew Wojtal lip-synched Ella Fitzgerald’s “All of Me” with Berkett and Sorzano as a high-kicking back-up. Berkett and Rosado slow-danced while Sorzano looked on wistfully, and though Miguel Perez seemed to ignore her, at the end, with Oscar Peterson blending Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” chorale into “My One and Only Love,” he returned and she fell into his arms.
Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at email@example.com.