Dance: Tobi Tobias

April 18, 1994, New York

Though the company suffered from temporary amnesia concerning Doris Humphrey, it had the sense to draw on past glories with the revival of three character studies choreographed mid-century by Daniel Nagrin. Two from 1948 were presented in tandem: Strange Hero and Spanish Dance. The first epitomizes a type-the anti-hero of American gangster movies; the second, a genre-flamenco. They’re wonderfully made: concise, alert to structural logic and surprise, witty, and beautiful (the last almost as if by accident). Spanish Dance is a tour de force in that it uses the full spectrum of flamenco conventions-the rooted, profiled stance, the death-I-defy-you carriage, the wreathing arms-but translates them into modern-dance language, a strategy that serves as both homage and ironic comment. Coached by Nagrin, these pieces were performed with enthusiasm and insight, though not with the wry particularity Nagrin himself brought to them even at the end of his stage career.

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