Eclectie breadth has been both a virtue and a liability for the Maryland Dance Theater, Founded in 1971 as a kind of modern-dance missionary outfit with a mandate for state wide touring the company has naturally striven to cover as broad a stylistic spectrum as a consequence some of its programs have seemed lacking in esthetic backbone and overly susceptible to blandness.
This past weekend, the company gave its first performances in Prince George's Publick Playhouse (in Bladensburg) a refurbished 480 seat movie theater that's quite hospitable to dance. This time the program struck a good balance, bolstered by several new offerings of exceptional chorcographic pith and variety.
Among the strongest of these was Dan Wagoner's "Dan's Run Penny Supper," a crazy-quilt of rustie witticisms, rhapsodic intensity and strikingly individual designs set to a mixture of country music and peices by Charles Ives. Equally ambitious was formance by Susannah Payton from Jose Limon's 1942 solo, and making a compelling study in dance architecture. Also of special note was the "Nocturne" to Gershwin's "Lullaby" by Graham-disciple Begtram Ross, a gently lyrical quartet that's surprisingly personal in idiom.
Among the other works. Anne Warren's graceful, cuphonic "Dance in Red" held up well on repetition despite a weak ending and Diane Baumgartner's sensual "earthrush" received a particularly rapt performance by Erick Hedges and Greta Marsh Owens Hodges. Owens, Rehecca McLain Bray and David Capps were outstanding among the dancer.