In "Ophelia" -- one of several character studies in Duende Dance Theater's Layers and Landscapes -- the heroine is forgotten by her lover. In the title role, artistic director Amanda Exley Lower dances a tantrum in an old iron bathtub. She kicks the water as though demanding attention, then lowers herself toward it like a lover, succumbing at last to its promise that she too can forget.
Love lived by rote is fast forgotten in the absence of desire, particularly when another comes along to tempt a neglected libido. "The Affair" tells the story of a Victorian love triangle set to the lamenting legato passions of Bach's Cello Suite #2, as performed by Yo-Yo Ma. The dance opens with a superb solo by Blake Beckham, who turns the difficulties of performing in a full-length skirt into a study of defiance. She dances large, pure, sensuous figures at the edge of balance, kicking the fabric of her skirt and squirming in the confinement of her bodice. The mournful duet of Greg Cattelier and Courtney Adams that follows is more artful and figured -- more Victorian -- a dance of love that follows the proper forms but cannot compete with the fiercer lover's more memorable attractions.
Memory, like love, is often fickle and always fragile. To see "Memories" is to enter the shifting fog of a personal past where memories flit about like moths on a moonless night. Choreographed by Beckham, the dance is set to the dilated rhythms of trombone electronica by Atlanta's Blake Williams. In her solo, Exley Lower rocks and rises as though struggling to awake from a too short night of persuasive dreams. Rebellious limbs shoot out in contrary directions, initiating unexpected off-balance spins and leaps in pursuit of elusive recollections.
Several short dances fill out the program, including four comic pieces -- "Point," "Set," "Match" and "Game" -- that each incorporate vintage evening dresses and tennis racquets.
Duende Dance Theater presents Layers and Landscapes Jan. 17-18 at 8 p.m. Oglethorpe University's Conant Center for the Performing Arts, 4484 Peachtree Road. 404-377-2534. www.duendedance.org.