It's significant that the climax of Jan Van Dyke's "A Dance in Two Spaces" occurred in the middle rather than near the end of the piece. Her company presented the new work, choreographed specially for the Corcoran space, at the gallery las tnight in the first performance of a week-long run. There was only one moment when the white-clad dancers moving on both sides of the great central hallway were doing the same thing, and it was then that the soloist, Elly Canterbury, crossed from one group to the other.
Otherwise, the four dancers in the north atrium were performing roughly the same dance as those I watched in the south atrium, but in reverse order. The dancers translated the balanced reversals of the architecture into movement, and Canterbury's crossover was powerful because it made the motion visible for the first time.
"A Dance in Two Spaces" is the most exciting new work from Van Dyke in several years. Her pieces are rarely without a suggestion of psychological relationship, but the currents are sometimes confused and confusing. Here, the architectural constraints brought out the clean, almost classical design sense that informs her best work and lets the psychological elements resonate without confounding.
Like "Ella," Van Dyke's earlier piece for the Corcoran which was also performed last night "A Dance in Two Spaces" has the air of a ritual enactment, clear and mysterious at once, but the floating, surreal elements of "Ella" give way, in "A Dance in Two Spaces," to a dynamic vocabulary of kicks, spins, and almost karate-like dueling actions.