Since I last saw Choreo 18, the resident modern dance repertory company of the Jewish Community Center, the troupe has evolved from sketchy beginnings into a technically capable unit with an impressively broad repertoire.
Saturday night's program, for instance, included premieres of pieces by Jeff Duncan and Cathy Paine, as well as works by Bill Evans, Jean Isaacs, Maida Withers and Midge Kretcmer (JCC's dance director). Half these choreographers are local (Kretchmer, Withers and Paine); the others came from points as far-flung as Seattle, San Diego and Baltimore, and the idioms they represent are interestingly diverse.
Paine's attractive "Truck Farming in Suburban Maryland," running a gamut of moods from lazybones non-chalance to snappy euphoria, is strongly reminiscent of Dan Wagoner and Twyla Tharp in its cartoonish treatment of bluegrass imagery.
Duncan's appealing quirky "Lunar Ladies," a trio to music by Elliott Carter, suggests in its precarious tiptoeing, staggers and rollovers, some of the gravitational oddities we may be up against on other worlds.
The remaining works were uneven but each had its winning aspects. A sharper definition of movement would have helped in some cases, and several performances were plagued with lighting problems. Despite the evening's variety, a certain blandness pervaded both content and performance. On the other hand, the underlying honesty and craftmanship of the program are virtues well worth cultivating.