Character development propels the movement in the unique work of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, which is performing its "2015 Home Season" at the James Sewell Ballet Tek Box this weekend. As the last word of the company's name suggests, SPTD taps into the tools of theater to create dance pieces that are both intellectual and emotionally driven.

Recent St. Olaf College graduate Grace Wehrspann gives a compelling portrayal of a museum security guard in SPTD co-director Suzanne Costello's "En Garde," which premiered at St. Olaf in 2014. Behind her exaggerated gestures as she polices the art under her watch — pointing, pacing and looking severe in her suffocating suit and slicked back low bun — Wehrspann reveals a human being at once bored and lonely, who finds ways to stay sane by humming to herself and eventually singing.

Wehrspann's gestures eventually increase in speed, becoming a dance that moves her around the floor, rolling and reaching in a desperate exercise of futility. Costello's often surprising and humorous choreography invites the audience to enter into the security guard's world, while Wehrspann's acting skills demonstrate an understated melancholy and vulnerability.

The premiere of Stuart Pimsler's "Bohemian Grove," which takes aim at the rich and powerful, also finds its backbone through character portrayals. Costello plays an heiress who defends her wealth with defiance as she acts as a kind of narrator throughout the piece. Her character is cold, sickeningly lacking in empathy or awareness of the broader context of the world. Heather Klopchin's character, meanwhile, has given up trying to be sober, choosing to die in excess rather than live on soda water with bitters.

These characters provide an entry point into the movement, which explores ideas of inequality, happiness and power through dance.

The performers spend time tormenting the one servant character, performed by Jesse Neumann-Peterson. They rub their shoes on him and physically and sexually harass him as he waits completely still on his hands and knees. They also turn on each other, clawing and climbing over each other to stay on top. In the end, these richest of rich people turn out to deserving of pity, if not scorn.

The evening also includes "Heroes Unbound," performed by dancers from Young Dance and their parents, as well as the excellent "The Men from the Boys," Pimsler's 1990 piece about masculinity, performed by Brian Evans and the choreographer.

Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis writer.