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Best of Dance & More for $1.98

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BEST OF DANCE & MORE FOR $1.98

at MoMing Dance & Arts Center

January 12-14 and 19-21

Thanksgiving dinner: four courses at least, if you count the relish tray--a dozen separate dishes at a minimum, from the hands of at least three cooks. Some dishes you genuinely like, others you eat out of a sense of obligation and the knowledge that you're only offered creamed corn once a year.

So it is every year with MoMing's "Best of Dance & More for $1.98," whose choreographers are chosen from the previous summer's "Dance & More for $1.98." This winter's lineup: eight dances, five choreographers, and a few helping hands. Intact dances from last summer, reworked dances from last summer, brand-new dances, reworked older dances. Here's the lowdown on the choreographers.

Ann Boyd: Very young. Has a streak of optimism a mile wide, but talented enough to handle a curve--the last-minute addition of a third to her planned duet, Letters We Never Wrote. She even turned a fluke into an asset.

Lezlee Crawford and Dennis Wise: Have been around the block. Rough- and-ready dancing, iconoclastic sense of humor.

Janine Gastineau: Caustic, critical cast of mind. But capable of a range of styles, from the apocalyptic darkness of Thinking We Get Away to the all-stops-out hilarity of Grass Is Always Greener. . . .

Rebecca Rice: A penchant for the abstract and portentous.

And now, the envelopes, please.

Most fun: Gastineau's Grass Is Always Greener. . . . Each of seven dancers has a shopping cart, a real one; each has a unique shopping style. There may be a subtext about shopping for an identity. Includes skateboarding in a shopping cart, shopping-cart warfare, partnering made easy by sticking your partner in a cart. A seven-ring circus.

Biggest head-scratcher: Rice's Heartaches and Balloons. Why is the sculpture that looks like a truncated pyramid wearing a veil? Why does the other sculpture have an egg in it? Why does one man of the two in the trio end up with the egg, while the other guy gets the girl?

Greatest improvement in six months: Boyd, in Letters We Never Wrote. Watching Boyd's Green Fields, romantic and slow paced, was a little like watching grass grow. Letters We Never Wrote, her new dance, has some tension, hints at the possibility of failure. Lovely moments, such as the women's stiff-legged walk on all fours, haunches rolling. Some very earnest and heartfelt dancing.

Coldest dash of water in the face: Wise and Crawford's Sun So Hot I Froze to Death. In a concert full of youthful enthusiasm, sticks a pin in the bubble of dance mysticism. Wise's nose collides, as if by chance, with Crawford's outstretched fingers. Fingers twiddle behind the back, like a sea anemone perched there, as the dancer peers thoughtfully between his or her legs. To close, Crawford floats and grins like a Cheshire cat. The joke is more obscure than in Triple Beat of Two Feet, their Cinderella parody, but so much the better.

All in all, well worth seeing. And it does happen only once a year.

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