There's an old formula at On the Boards for the ideal audience reaction to a piece of new work: One third loves it, one third hates it, and one third is confused. The two-week Northwest New Works Festival is the theater's annual sampler platter, eight new works per week, or 16 chances for love, hate, and puzzlement.

Last week's duds: Ginger Moloko (unimaginative art-drag) and Tikka Sears and the Memory War Project (earnest, soporific gruel with lumps of The 1,001 Nights and the Iraq war).

The happy surprise: tEEth, Portland's surrealist dance company. There was an old man in a white suit sitting downstage, a woman with a taxidermied deer head behind him, and dancing characters from the old man's senile dreams. Four wore scabrous prosthetic skin, moving and squeaking like animals from an alien bestiary. Two, in shiny strips of plasticky fabric, were slow and grinding, a violent beast with two backs. At the end, the old man stood and tried—and failed—to speak.

Erin Jorgensen played narcotic marimba lullabies (and told a story from her childhood about burning fields and the end of the world). Deborah Wolf's arc angle, for eight dancers wearing bright red, was frantic and forgettable. The maika misumi movement troupe performed a Japanese-inflected piece for nine dancers, with taiko drumming and martial arts. It was grand, like an encoded allegory, as was the air is peopled with cruel and fearsome birds, Implied Violence's homage to 1920s German Expressionism, vaudeville, and Gertrude Stein (see Nightstand). IV's vintage modernism and absurdism—banal conversations fragmented and repeated, pies thrown in faces, bullhorns and old leather shoes, a string quartet—can feel a little timeworn and thin, but those tricks still have the power to polarize: Afterward, there were arguments among friends about whether the show was lovable or hateable. And, when the curtain closed, a slightly tipsy woman was heard to say: "Well, now—I'm just confused."