The works in the second weekend of Conduit's Dance+ Performance Festival are not lighthearted. There are no graceful ballerinas prancing around in pretty pink tutus and slippers. But like so many great pieces of art, they push the bounds of convention, proving difficult to classify. A captivating assortment of five genre-busting works, the show is at once dark, abstract and spellbinding (see a review of last weekend's performance here). In Conduit's intimate, high-ceilinged studio, with its booming sound system, audience members are drawn into the poignant whirlwind of a show, even if they're left bewildered at times. Throughout, dancers clutch viewers' full attention with searing eye contact and powerful movement. 

Stephanie Lanckton’s solo Amaranthine Beginnings opens the show on an eerie note. With her powder-white skin, deep red eyes and animalistic movement, Lanckton recalls a ring-hunting Gollum. Her performance seems a bit excessive—the zombie-like moves might be at home in a haunted house—but the work still intrigues and fascinates.

Keeping things dark and esoteric, excerpts from choreographer Maya Soto’s Gathering Bones draw the audience close. The seven female dancers are Amazonian warriors who stomp, scream, hiss and, well, attempt to eat each other alive. Steady, sustained movement is juxtaposed by hyper-speed, intricate choreography that is at times perfectly synchronized and other times discordant. The dancers embody power with an air of brashness.

On a lighter note, Jim Camou’s Constance is reminiscent of springtime. But it feels out of place—not only because of its lightness, but because its emptiness. It takes an ambitious leap towards the obscure, but it loses the audience in the process. It opens with four female dancers taking the stage with a single potted plant. From here, the dancers crouch, their backs to the audience, and slap their thighs repeatedly. Later, they hide behind a curtain. Rather than showcasing the dancers’ talents, we watch these abstract situations, ending with the dancers making chirpy, kissy noises for a prolonged time.

Swooping in to steal the show are the dancers of LA’s Ate9 Dance with Two Years After. The romantic storyline between the two men and two women makes little sense, but I was so mesmerized by the seemingly effortless performances that I didn’t care. The choreography is fresh and hypnotizing, and the dancers execute it with incredible focus, control and command, their years of training evident in the tiniest movements. The male dancers explode off the ground when they leap, while the female dancers execute graceful movements with clean and elegant lines. Opening to the sounds of a recorded narration of a man speaking to a woman that transitions to passionate music, the dance has moments ranging from serenity to insanity.

The combination of these abstract performances might not appeal to the masses, but it’s sure to please anyone with a sense of adventure. After all, the artist most unabashed in experimentation is often the one to leave the greatest impact.