An open-door policy - which is what the Washington Project for the Arts maintains with respect to the Performing Arts - is a two-way street. It lets in off-beat, daring and unconventional material that would be hard pressed to find congenial quarters elsewhere, and this often makes for worthwhile discoveries. Inevitably, it also lets in some half-baked, slap-dash or vapid stuff that has no valid claim to attention. The one is the price of the other, and it's worth it by and large, but there are times when the rate of exchange seems mighty costly.
Such was the case this weekend, when "On the Move," describing itself as "an improvisational, dance, theater, music ensemble" presented an exasperatingly witless program. The seven pieces were not all alike, but they seemed quality indifferent to clarity, shape, idea or skill.
In one work, entitled "Just Like a Man or (Silence Please)," for example, a couple of men sporadically moved chairs, mats and boxes around the stage, while stupidly ignoring the erotic poses and scamperings of two female "dancers." Toward the end, one of the men regarded a woman standing statue-like on a box and said, "Now there's a real woman," or words to that effect.
Presumably, the whole thing was intended as a statement about women as mere clutter in the world of male activity. But no one seems to have asked themselves whether anything in this "performance" added to or illuminated our perception of male chauvinism, or, for that matter, whether it was worth watching from any stand point.
With the exception of dancer Beth Burkhardt, there was no evidence that the participants were in any way qualified to impose themselves on an audience.
The program of the Rajko Hungarian Gypsy Orchestra and Dancers at Kennedy Center Friday evening was just about equally divided between genuine folkloric, nuggets of high interest and appeal, on the one hand, and cheaply packaged trash on the other.
The audience didn't appear to be greatly deceived about the difference. The warmest reception was reserved for the music and dance of most evident authenticity. Why the company directors felt obliged to inflict on us as well such kitsch as bad arrangements of Liszt, only a distorted notion of box-office allure can explain. On the better half of the program, the 10 youthful dancers of the troupe were particularly robust and attractive.