Since its founding in 1984, Ronald K. Brown's Evidence, a Brooklyn-based troupe, has prioritized community in its choreography and performance. Resolutely refusing to exploit sexuality, the dancers celebrate and suffer, strut and support one another. Brown's style combines black vernacular dance with African movement; the good performers jump and spin and display their full hearts -- shoulders back, chests lifted.
A whole evening of this high-minded stuff, even set to the infectious music of Stevie Wonder, wears thin. Watching Brown and his nine dancers at the Joyce, we thought it might be more fun to be onstage with them, boogying down, than to sit in the house where too-loud sound levels, in both recorded and live accompaniment, assaulted our ears.
In the current Broadway production of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," which Brown choreographed, the simple movements performed by the God-fearing denizens of Catfish Row seem the perfect solution. The same concerns play less well stripped of dramatic context.
Brown's new "On Earth Together/Everybody at the Table," assembled from pieces he's made around the country, toggles between scenes of street life in the city, costumed in faded blue cotton, and mysterious groups of mourners in Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya's sweeping dark formal wear. The street scenes incorporate mime: a guy photographing others, a drug deal going down, a stop-and-frisk. The alternating, heavier sections evoke early modern dance, with the community pulling together to sustain individual members. But the movement vocabulary grows repetitive. Dramatic structure is almost totally lacking.
The audience opening night ate it up. Catch this bill Friday and Saturday evenings, and a program of older works at Saturday's matinee.
If you go
Evidence, A Dance Company
175 Eighth Ave.