Dance review

Three Rivers Arts Festival opens boldly with NYC troupe boomerang

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Mix bits of yoga, modern, ballet and breakdance with some soccer and skateboarding and pepper it all with poetry, and what do you get?

At the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival on Saturday, the answer was boomerang, a New York City-based troupe that opened the dance offerings at the Trust Arts Education Center.

Through four works in about 60 minutes by co-artistic director and choreographer Kora Radella, dancers demonstrated the depth of their repertoire, starting with the amply athletic "Oughta." Co-artistic director Matty Davis explored the body's capabilities, sometimes swinging lower limbs like a pendulum as the upper body stayed stiff (or limp) and vice versa. Fellow performer Will Arbery watched, then contributed with spoken words that lifted Mr. Davis in choreographic phrases that carried him across the stage.

"How you shone through me" spotlighted Mr. Davis in a more reflective state. Stooped before a candlelit, miniature vanity, he slipped rings onto his fingers that he tapped across his body and the floor, coloring the piece with percussive elements. Repetitive movements, coupled with reverent instrumentals, made it all feel meditative.

The performance art reached its peak with "For the toward." Mr. Arbery pontificated about work and worth as he and Mr. Davis maneuvered about thick disks of varying sizes. Sometimes they balanced on them like circus performers. Other times they served as pillows or pedestals for headstands. The program closed with the more intimate "Our Past the Fuse," an unorthodox pas de deux between Mr. Davis and Jordan Holland with palpable sensuality.

What stood out was the choice to not churn out tricks merely for the sake of doing them. Movements were grounded in meaning that often times was sensed in the gut rather than grasped by the mind.

Having boomerang perform was a bold choice for the Three Rivers Arts Festival. While the physicality was entertaining, it required focus from the audience, which likely included proletarians to performance art and did include the occasional "I don't get this" whispered. But it was a risk worth taking, an evocative complement to other dance groups on tap at the festival.

Sara Bauknecht: or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.

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