Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The American Contemporary Dance Company, which made its local debut at the Washington Project for the Arts Thursday, seems at first sight to be an interesting, spirited, uneven but capable troupe. But the total effect of the program was strangely anomalous, as if the director and chief choreographer, Mino Nichlas, were trying not just to recall but to relive the pioneering '30s and '40s of modern dance. "Contemporary" seems a funny choice of word for a group so locked into the past.
With the exception of one piece by Nicholas - a spoofing solo for a femal in "Swan Lake" getup, bound and gagged and struggling vainly to the strains of a torch song - the entire program consisted either of revivals or newer works of a determinedly atavistic character.
What was surprising, though, was to see the unmistakable '30s look of Nicholas' own "New England Countryside" and "Dry Bones," with their undisguised references to Humphrey-Weidman technique and the Martha Graham idiom.
There were odd discrepancies in the performances, too. The Humphrey was too bustling and calisthenic for the work's serenely utopian visions, but the Currier and Nicholas pieces had both conviction and finesse. The blessings were mixed, but all in all it was an intriguing evening.