Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
A standing ovation from a packed Baird Auditorium Thursday night testified to the powerful transcultural appeal of Rose Marie Guiraud, in her program of solo dances. The free performance was under the joint sponsorship of the Museum of African Art and the African-American Institute, with assistance from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Guiraud is a native of West Africa's Ivory Coast, where she has been dancing since childhood. She studied both there and in France before establishing herself in her homeland as a performer and teacher. On her current U.S. tour she worked with Alvin Ailey's troupe in New York, and is surveying the contemporary American scene in dance and music.
The program was comprised of three sections; the first a kind of ode to Africa and its emergence from a state of enslavement to one of liberation; the second, a dance of mourning and consolation, the last, a paean to the forces of rhythm. Accompaniment, along with superb drum ensemble of the Museum of African Art, in a nonstop, intricately accentuated interplay of percussion motifs. Also assisting with recitation, mime and song were actor Walter Manley and singer Gregory Ford.
Guiraud emits the blazing energy and magnetism of the born performer, making instant eye and body contact with her audience. The dance idiom, with its churning pelvis, abdominal contractions, rippling shoulders and awesomely vibrant feet, was unmistakably African, but the expressive vitality was just as clearly universal.