Bodies of Evidence

You could call it powerhouse dancing. Or, depending on the piece Ronald K. Brown's Evidence is performing, you could call it power house dancing. Brown's choreography blends modern, Senegalese and other African styles, and often, elements of club or house dance. Regardless of how stylized, ethnic or vernacular the spirit of the piece, his and his dancers' magnificently sculpted bodies carry the movement with the cunning of panthers pouncing on prey, yet when the men stand still and straight, they could be architectural columns. But don't expect to catch them immobile for long. Mostly they're whirling, writhing or crouching around the stage, gathering power for the next leap.

Sporting a fresh 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship Award, Brown is touring his 15-year-old dance company, Evidence, around the country. It makes a generous stop at Gammage Auditorium with a free noontime Brown Bag rehearsal Thursday and a performance that night at 8.

It's hard to believe that Brown, who only came to dance in his late teens and is still in his 30s, has achieved all he has in the intervening years. In addition to the Guggenheim, he's received numerous grants, a Bessie award, and choreographic commissions, most notably for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Early on he recognized that the title of his first major dance, "Evidence," was the clue to his vision of how he wanted to shape his work. Making dances that witnessed the momentous historical events of black history or told stories of his family was glue that held that vision together.

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Merilyn Jackson