Aura Fischbeck is one of those dancer-choreographers who blows into town and starts performing with more established colleagues while they create their own choreographies. At first they appear in group shows until they accumulate enough material for their own programs. Fischbeck isn't quite there yet. Her most recent appearance at the Garage about as underground a venue as you can have in the city included the work of another excellent dancer, Travis Rowland, who is just expanding his career into choreography.
The three pieces Fischbeck presented confirmed an earlier impression of her as a choreographer willing to restrict her movement ideas to shape them better. It's a process that works. Relay, performed by Fischbeck, Sarah Pfeifle, and Leigh Riley, grouped three very different performers in a kind of game in which unisons periodically acted as page-turners to reveal new permutations on given material. This rigorous, formal process enhanced the individuality of the dancers.
Compass, which took the dance into nature via a video by Chris Wise, was a fierce, space-eating solo in which Fischbeck's arms rotated as if trying to unscrew from their sockets when they weren't shooting out like laser beams, that is. The dancer put herself through a whole kaleidoscope of states of being, from desiring domination to willing acquiescence.
The new Go West a meditation on the country's expansion toward the Pacific is Fischbeck's most ambitious work yet. Created for seven women, it was too big for the Garage. It's a sprawling work, full of funny and provocative imagery (both human and animal) with a tongue-in-cheek collage score of western music. It needs work, but the bones are there.
Rowland's duet with Michaela Shoberg, But Only If You Like Me First, was awkward, like the puppy love whose trajectory it portrayed. But let's see what he does next.