And then there is stillness. Harnage stands alone on a darkened stage, amid a forest of ropes — soft sculptures made of cotton welting — that dropped like curtains. The inside edges of his feet are pressed together as his torso wiggles and his knees buckle. In this powerful, poetic lament, Harnage’s bare-chested body seems to prickle as it bends, wobbles and rights itself again. An arabesque performed with a wind-milling arm contrasts with the looseness of his collapsing spine.
When the group returns, Harnage — with a glance and a reach — finds a connection with another dancer, Lee Duveneck. Gradually, the setting becomes brighter, more playful; Eran Bugge jostles Harnage’s arm, and a childlike abandon takes over. The set transforms to reveal a silhouette of distant, rolling hills while the stage becomes more golden, which gives the caramel-colored costumes — including pants with a wisp of a skirt for the women and slim pants and white tanks for the men — a lift. For all its details, this dance, with lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, can look too beige. The action gets muddy, blurring the steps.
But in the music’s closing Fugue, “Solitaire” comes to life as Lovette matches the music’s joy and speed that leads, for Harnage, to a kind of awakening: When the last of the dancers spins into the wings, leaving him behind, he may be alone but he’s not abandoned. Lovette’s musicality taps into a feeling, an idea that seems autobiographical: that a loner can find hope when dance is the balm.
The message of the company’s other premiere, Amy Hall Garner’s “Somewhere in the Middle,” is mainly unabashed joy. Performed on Thursday to a selection of jazz music, Garner’s offering is as bubbly as a warm bath: Arms fly into the air, dancers roll across the floor and then lift off again, smiling recklessly as if there were no tomorrow. It’s like jazz day at the beach.
Donald Martiny’s set — hanging brushstroke pieces that show dimension through the thick, sometimes bumpy paint texture — changes in color and shape throughout the work, matching the liveliness of Mark Eric’s bright costumes (briefs and bras overlaid with transparent fabric). Do I love the white brushstrokes that are painted on them? Not at all. It looks like a finger-painting accident.