Sweet Sting

A problem with Mystics is its relatively ubiquitous pacing: A rhythm established early in the piece continues until late in the dance, when the women, wearing dark-blue dresses under the tunicles -- very much like vestments -- dance vigorously to music evoking both early-music and American folk melodies. Before this point, the most solid connections have been pairs: Rarely do all four performers move together. After the joyful, quick-moving dance, they seem to go back into the darkness, first ritually cleansing the performance space by sweeping it with fir branches, then forming a tableau.

Mystics have always been the exasperation of organized religion: With direct, if nonrational, access to God, they bypass the bishops and end-run around pastors. Mystics (like all Gash/Voigt dance) is a bit exasperating, too. You feel it dopey for not understanding what seems on the surface to be so forthright and clear. Only when you realize that the dance and what the dance is saying are the same thing can you relax and just let it happen.

-- Harry Weber

SHORT SEEN: For lovers of Cole Porter, an evening of his music both familiar and obscure is sheer pleasure. That's what Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts gives us in Cole. Some voices may still have weak spots and an occasional dance step may falter, but these four young men and four young women perform the marvelously inventive staging of director and choreographer Millie Garvey with the assurance of the professionals they soon will be.

-- Bob Wilcox

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