Deborah Slater's quietly atmospheric The Desire Line
DANCE Deborah Slater's new The Desire Line is as quietly atmospheric as it is rambunctiously explosive. It is also a lot of fun as you catch glimpses a hand holding a foot, a striped tie, a letter, teacups of Alan Felton's figurative paintings, reproduced in the Dance Mission Theater lobby, that inspired this fine hour-long piece. But Slater isn't interested in imitating the portraits of these self-absorbed narcissists. She wants to dig below the canvas. This is her second go at Felton, whose silent figures look like they'd be full of stories if one just knew how to access them. Slater's 2004 Trio (in the space between) was a trial run for the more ambitious and more thoroughly developed Desire.
The idea is as simple as it is ingenuous: break open shells of self-absorption, and watch as sparks fly as people start to rub against one another. In Desire privacy and isolation are held in balance with volcanic explosions of fury, jealousy, attraction, confusion, fear, you name it the whole gamut of human emotions. For a while it looked like the piece turned around Kerry Mehling's never-explained outbursts of hysteria, but then she became another member of a group, which bumped into each other and found brief connections before spinning away. The other performers, all strong, were Shannon Preto, Elizebeth Randall, Travis Rowland, Kenneth Scott, Breton Tyner-Bryan, and Shaunna Vella.
Slater forwent elaborate sets and empowered her septet of dancers to carry the piece with choreography that was as full-bodied and visceral as any of hers that I have seen. (Rita Felciano)
THE DESIRE LINE
Thurs/10Sat/12, 8 p.m.; Sun/13, 7 p.m.; $18
Dance Mission Theater
1310 Mission, SF