What more could dancers wish than to take absolute possession of a stretch of street, re-ordering the space in their own image, even stopping traffic along the way? Dancers from Dance Project and some of their neighbors in the Adams Morgan area did it three times this weekend in dance parades planned as part of the Neighborhood Dance Experiment.
The dancers started in Kalorama Park Saturday afternoon and headed down Columbia Road NW to 16th Street. They carried placards with slogans such as "Support Your Local Dancers," stopping at intervals to repeat dance combinations separately choreographed for each of the 10 participating groups.
Jan Van Dyke and members of her company did sophisticated diagonals and syncopations. The Dance Project students swooped in broad circles. Neighborhood kids favored circles of various snake-like formation: the patrols from Oyster School and the Marie Reid Drill Team contributed their own brand of parade choreography.
Later that afternoon, at the 18th Street studio, Dance Project students displayed their talents in an impressive display of student choreography. Allyson Paul's "Room to Move," with its hoedown ambiance and whimsical isolations, wears well. It's a good dance, full of wit, energy and intelligent design. So is Tom Biel's "Richie's Game II," a conceptual tour de force based on the floor patterns of actual pinball machines.
Conception often outstripped execution in these student pieces, but the work of these young choreographers makes the outlook for the future - theirs and ours - look good.
On Saturday evening, a new performing group, the Joy of Motion Dance Center, made its debut at WPA. The group's leaders, Michelle Ava Gordon and Jack Guidone have both worked with Margaret Ramsay's improvisational group "Free Association." Their work has the zaniness of improvisation, and the same lack of thematic cohesion, but without that sense of infinite possibilities born of many small decisions that makes good improvisation exciting. Gordon and Guidone both have talent, but it's a talent lacking in nuance and lacking, for the moment, the discipline of a coherent esthetic sensibility.