Kidd Pivot’s got the power at Kaul

Let’s say you’re in Portland and you don’t anything on for tonight, or maybe you have something on, but you’re dreading it. Or Saturday night. If you are in that circumstance, then Art Scatter suggests that you drop in on Kidd Pivot, at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium. It’s that good.

Kidd Pivot is the brainchild of Crystal Pite (rhymes with kite), a Vancouver, B.C., choreographer, who danced with Ballet B.C. and Ballett Frankfort, where she worked with William Forsythe. She founded Kidd Pivot in 2001, though she continues to choreograph for other companies.

For the White Bird series
, Pite and her company of six are performing Lost Action (2006). It’s a 70-minute, one-act (no intermission) concert that only lags a little toward the conclusion, primarily because of false ending or two. Until then, though, the action, lost or not, is totally engaging. For this dance, Pite has borrowed a little hip-hop, knitted things together with repeated actions and tableaux and employed a propulsive movement device: The dancers typically run pell-mell through a phrase that stops stock still; then they sprint off again. And even when they are doing slower phrases, they frequently end motionless.

She favors movements of the arms extended or bowed and shoulders, though in one delightful moment a leg extended above a dancer’s head descends in a soft S curved, a remarkable effect, which fortunately repeats! The dance is gestural, definitely, and some of the sections seem to tell a little story. In a recurring motif, a dancer collapses and other dancers stand above him looking down, eventually picking him up and “reviving” him in a sort of “passing” ritual. There’s a little parka section (O Canada!). There’s drama and tension and sadness. The solos are uniformly excellent, primarily because the dancers are, I suppose. Swift, athletic, open to the moment. They partner the same way: You don’t notice the precision at first because they make even difficult moments, and there are lots of those, look easy.

I especially liked the sections for the four men in Kidd Pivot. The specific physical attributes of men are frequently under-realized on dance stages, but Pite takes advantage of the power and speed and abruptness her men bring. Which isn’t to say that the other women are overwhelmed here. Pite is an amazing mover — powerful, agile, quick, bristling with kinetic energy. And Marthe Krummenacher and Francine Liboiron bring some specific talents to the table, one longer and expressive and the other smaller and sharper.

This concert is also a good starting point for a mini-modern dance festival here in Portland, a good point of comparison. Oslund+Co performs Bete Perdue again on Nov. 21-23 at Imago. My thoughts on the dance are available here. And then Skinner/Kirk + Bielemeier will perform Dec. 3-7 at the Portland Opera Studio Theater. We’re going to be following along and taking some notes.

Youtube has a video of another dance by Pite: Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue.