by Jane Vranish, Post-Gazette Dance and Music Critic 

July 2001

It was a time to celebrate for the Dance Alloy last night at the Byham Theater. A 25th anniversary is a major milestone for any dance company, particularly in today’s economic climate. But, true to form, Dance Alloy celebrated with deep-rooted, inspired performances rather  than bright and joyous incantations. So there was a great deal to give pause for reflection. 
Alloy Artistic Director Mark Taylor paired with Indian choreographer Anita Ratnam in yet another major cultural collaboration with “DUST”, a work based on the writings and story of Alexandra David-Neel, a female explorer from the 1920s who was the first European to venture into the forbidden city of Lhasa in Tibet. 
It was a combination that put their respective companies on equal footing. The Alloy used Gwen Hunter Ritchie and Andre Koslowski and Ratnam offered L Narendra Kumar and Anusha Subramanyam. 
Subramanyam became a David-Neel character, proceeding slowly on the diagonal in her spiritual quest. In the meantime, the remaining three dancers literally brushed the dust from the stage and then became the particles of movement inside it.  
Alice Shield’s exotic electronic score, replete with Tibetan trumpets and an Indian singing voice, and Barbara Thompson’s lighting design, with its overhead spots, a golden ring of light and a fragmented wash,  added greatly to the overall mood. Much of the movement seemed indelibly printed with Eastern influences – the low-slung plies, angular poses and rhythmic foot accents. But the lifts and spatial elements came from an American direction. To their credit, the seams between the two choreographers were barely noticeable and the work remained true to one voice – that of David-Neel…