FALMOUTH – Maine State Ballet’s second annual Choreographer’s Showcase was a short but sweet presentation on Thursday and Friday at the Maine State Ballet Theater.

It was wonderful to see the return of Neoteric Dance Collaborative, a modern dance company from New Hampshire. Neoteric presented “The Hill,” by artistic director Sarah Cost, and “Water,” by assistant director Jessica Soucy.

“Water,” billed as an exploration of the behaviors of water, was danced to gentle guitar and string music attributed to “Unknown Artist.” The piece is part of a developing work representing the elements.

Soucy’s choreography finds that magical spot where the concept is represented consistently, without resorting to charades.

Behaviors of water were evoked — the dancers undulated, jumped, swirled, gave beats and impacts like lapping water and came together in a fountain-like formation. The silky blend of movement could be taken as purely abstract if the piece were untitled, but it would still subtly call water to mind.

“The Hill,” an excerpt from Cost’s “Spoon River,” was performed to music by Michael Giacchino with vocalizations from the dancers. It demonstrated Cost’s ability to experiment, while maintaining coherent and sophisticated artistic interpretation.

“Meromeni Begoo: wild rice lake” was created by Jessica Holloway, director of Topsham’s The Ballet School & Merrymeeting Ballet Caravan, to music commissioned from local composer Anthony Serino.

“Meromeni” was inspired by Merrymeeting Bay, an inland delta for six rivers, and performed in watercolor-splotched blue and green tights. These costumes, plus the impressionistic techno music, gave a watery, mystical sense to the piece.

Holloway was the one to watch, her dancing elastic and precise, and her interpretations clearest of choreography that abstractly conveyed the natural world.

Maine State Ballet showed its own modern side in “Two of a Kind,” choreographed and performed by Katie Farwell and Juliette Lauzier.

In long red dresses with flowing hair, Farwell and Lauzier danced to African drumming by Palms Down. They combined sweeping arms and legs with a heavier, grounded feeling, to reflect the music’s spirit. These two dancers are always gorgeous to watch, and it was delightful to see them in a duet.

The program was bracketed by neoclassical works by Janet and Glenn Davis, both displaying musicality and strong footwork on pointe.

Glenn Davis’ “Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto” opened with a tableau of eight female dancers in black and featured elegant solos by Farwell. Her first entrance was breathtaking, her regal bearing reminiscent of Suzanne Farrell.

The choreography blended classical forms with more modern weight shifts and turned-in steps, and the solos highlighted Farwell’s strong balance and exquisite line.

Janet Davis’ “Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1” had good three-dimensionality, with the corps de ballet using the full stage in shifting formations and directions. A pas de trois by the two Davises and Michael Holden was finest when they danced briefly between two lines of the corps.

Three jazz and tap numbers completed the program.

To Mae Axton’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” Courtney True choreographed and performed a strong, personality-rich tap number.

Janet Ottman’s “Ease On Down the Road” (Charlie Smalls), also presented last year, was charming, with tapping by Holden, True and Rhiannon Pelletier, wearing Oz touches like straw in Holden’s pocket and True’s lion’s ears.

Caitlin Bernard and Nicholas Reynolds gave a sprightly interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” acknowledging the King of Pop with sequins on his single glove and her jacket, and a few pelvic thrusts.

The technical high points included a neat series of fouettes from Bernard in the center of Reynolds’ soaring leap-turn circle.

 

Jennifer Brewer is a freelance writer, teacher, musician and dancer who lives in Saco.