Digestible Dance 

A new dance group offers a sampling of choreography styles this weekend.

Mayo appeared on the Richmond performing arts scene in 2002 when she launched the Field/Richmond, a local branch of a performing artists’ workshop series founded in New York. Working on her choreography through the Field workshop process, Mayo eventually decided to create her own dance company as a formal context for presenting her work.

Mayo’s contemporary dance works can be quirky, thoughtful and open to interpretation; for the most part, they don’t tell specific stories. As she puts it, the mission of dim sum dance is “to make evocative works that resonate aesthetically and emotionally” with audiences. To achieve this, she’s been working with dancers Jamie Reynolds and Kerri Helsley since 2002, and has assembled additional cast members including Megan Vernon, Kerry MacDonald, Megan Zander, Jill Sposa and two nondancers, Becky Bryant and Mark Richardson.

The program features three premieres and three repertory works. The premiere duet “GEL” was sparked by the music of the band Trans Am. The piece opens with Mayo herself and Jamie Reynolds in lawn chairs and continues in a whimsical, slightly sensual vein. “It’s a slick piece,” Mayo says.

In “Rumble on Tundra,” another premiere, nondancers Bryant and Richardson share a stage littered with Peppermint Patty wrappers with Mayo and MacDonald. The two duets explore contrasts between pedestrian movement and a slightly quirky modern dance vocabulary. During a recent rehearsal of the piece, MacDonald mimed eating her Peppermint Patty so convincingly you wanted to run up and ask for a bite. “I think of it as being about two different worlds merging and regrouping,” Mayo says. “And it has a lot to do with Peppermint Patties.”

As the inspiration behind her third premiere, “Habit Elaborate,” Mayo says simply, “I wanted to do a piece working with slow, deliberate movement, exploring time, gesture and shape.” She couples this movement, performed by Vernon and Sposa, with a score combining whale songs with the solo saxophone of Eric Dolphy.

Two works in the program may be familiar to Richmond dance audiences: “Closer” premiered at Ground Zero Dance Company’s fall 2002 repertory concert, and “Right Brain Tango” appeared in Starr Foster Dance Project’s Choreographer’s Showcase in fall 2003.

In addition to the dance program, “Bloom” includes a sound-and-movement installation by Mike Ryan, in which a dancer covered in fluorescent body paint transforms into living sculpture. The installation is adapted from a piece performed by Dim Sum Dance last fall at the Urban Light Works Festival. S

Dim Sum Dance’s “Bloom” runs May 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre. Tickets cost $10 at the door. For information go to www.dimsumdance.org, call 440-8528 or e-mail dimsumdance@earthlink.net.

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