Oslund & Company Conduit Dance Studio
Mary Oslund makes her company work; moments of rest during Fifty Infants are rare, moments of stasis nonexistent. At least one person is always moving with furious energy, if not two or three, or most commonly, five, six, seven, or eight. Dancers leap, twist, turn, catch, throw themselves down, and sprint at a breathless pace that is established from the get-go and never relents for a second in any of the four pieces making up the show. Layers of solo, duo, and even trio performances interweave simultaneously at any given time. The dancers sweat and gasp to fit it all in. The audience sweats and gasps to take it all in.
The opening piece, "Salvation Pieces," sets the tone, throwing eight dancers clad in soft tones of beige and white into a frenzy of physically demanding movement (including a sequence in which dancers throw themselves on the floor, roll, stand, and repeat for nearly a full minute) to the beat of music that sounds like machinery clanking.
It becomes apparent by the end of the evening that this image of machinery at work is highly symbolic, for Oslund has turned her company into an assembly line of beautiful dance moves and impressive acts of physicality. Sure, costumes change--the show's title piece, "Fifty Infants," involves the awkward styles and interactions of a tripped out high school dance; multimedia tricks are used--"Exhibit" flashes slides across a sea of white-clad dancers. But the rhythm and pace of the movement never varies, never allows individual moments to surface above the steady, mechanical stream of technical prowess. Oslund's work is highly sophisticated and often, exhilarating to behold, but it also needs to be viewed in installments. It is a feast of passionate modern dance, but like all feasts, it fills one up after awhile. It is a feast for lovers of dance. Mere dabblers will be filled up at intermission.