Solar energy was not the only energy on display in downtown Washington yesterday. Lunchtime picnickers also encountered evidence of local dance energy. A new group, "98.6," an offshoot of Carol Vaughn's Bethesda-based "Feet First," appeared at Farragut Square in "Colored Lunch," the first of a series of lunch pieces (the others are "Lateral Lunch," "Synchronized Lunch," and "After Lunch") to be performed Wednesdays at Farragut Square and Fridays at Lafayette Plaza.
"Colored Lunch" looked exactly like it sounds: aquamarine sandwiches, green cole slaw, still greener macaroni salad, and bright orange deviled eggs arranged on a pink tablecloth, along with a cake iced with instructions for its own destruction.
Gastronomically, the effect was bilious, but visually, "Colored Lunch" blended rather nicely with the ordered rows of azaleas and yellow tulips. It was hard to gauge, however, just how the peice affected neighboring picnickers, most of whom seemed to feel it would be impolite to look too closely at another's lunch.
At Dupont Circle, members of the "Dance Exchange" performed before a circle of several hundred onlookers. The park was graced with flags, banners, and displays for Sun Day as well as with tulips, though less manicured and organized tulips than the ones at Farragut Square.
The "Dance Exchange" performance, too, had a relaxed and slightly ragged quality. The sound system arrived late. The dancers huddled beforehand like football players awaiting instructions, and issued useful directions to spectators like, "The front's over here" and "There's another piece coming."
Of the two peices performed, Allyson Paul's "Room to Move" was the more successful - a bit of lively mechanical bebop to the witty music of John Mayall. Sandy Benson's piece suffered in adaptation from solo to group performance, as the piquant, personal touches which characterized Benson's solo were lost in the process.
Neither of these dances was choreographed for the environment, however, and although the dancers kicked up quite a bit of dust, both pieces sufered in the transition from stage to sunlight. It was as if the dancers were performing on an imaginary stage which confined the works instead of letting them open out.