With American Ballet Theater going full blast at the Kennedy Center, the local dance scene also moved into high gear this past weekend with at least four different indigenous groups parading their wares in various metropolitan sites. And generally speaking the Washingtonians held up their end remarkably well.
There was, for example, the performance by Van Dyke and Dancers at the troupe's comfy home base, the Dance Project studio. There was nothing new on the program, though it contained a couple of pieces I had not yet seen - "Origami" by Sally Nash, and Van Dyke's own "Fleetwood Mac Suite," retitled from a work premiered earlier this year. But it was a particularly strong and well-balanced assortment, reflecting both the diversity of the company repertoire and the adaptability of the dancers.
Van Dyke herself danced in all four works and showed one again her outstanding presence, fluidity and control as a performer. "Big Show," a sort of one-woman "Stars and Stripes," a whimsical and affectionate bouquet to the cheerleader-majorette side of American popular pageantry, displayed her leggy spryness and her understated humor to fine advantage. "Paradise Castle" is one of Van Dyke's more irritatingly cryptic group works, but it does provide both Van Dyke and her fellow dancers a chance to exhibit that special sense of psychological innuendo which is one of the company's trademarks.
"Origami" is a sort of conceptual dance, with more than a dash of women's-lib polemics. Compactly structured it makes its programmatic points succinctly and the company performs it with just the right dead-pan conviction.
"Fleetwood Mac Suite" is much more of a pure dance vehicle than is customary with Van Dkye. The choreography takes its line, shape and feeling tone from the appealing twang and sweetness of the music, without striving for dramatic or metaphorical overtones. As such, it reveals Van Dyke's considerable ability in abstract composition. There's no marked sense of originality about the movement, but the dance flows from the music in a natural, organic manner and the whole thing suits the company eminently well.
All in all, the program confirmed the troupe's stature as one of Washington's most together outfits. Along with Van Dyke, the dancers were Elly Canterbury, Virginia Freeman, Jean Jones, Susan Sachs, and Rebecca Slifkin.