Two final evenings of this year's City Dance festival at the Warner Theater Friday and Saturday furnished a gratifying sampler of indigenous dance activity in the Washington area.
From the festival offerings alone, it was apparent that virtually the whole spectrum of contemporary styles, forms and idioms is represented locally. Both the diversity and the artistic standards of the festival programs testified to a healthy, admirably ambitious and still burgeoning dance culture hereabouts.
From a formal standpoint, it was fascinating to observe, both in the contributions of the Meriam Rosen Dancers and of the Dance Exchange, choreographic passages that would have been inconceivable before the advent of motion pictures and television. Both the Rosen troupe's playful "Three Times" and the Dance Exchange's amusing rebus, "Who's On First?" exploited the humorous potential of slow-motion, as well as the peculiar legibility it gives to body movement.
There were other links between the two works, notably the feeling of sport. "Three Times," which also used freeze-frame and pixillation techniques, was like a gloss on the gamesmanship of young people's lives. Liz Lerman's "Who's On First" discourses verbally and choreographically on the parallels and contrasts between athletics and dance. Its pop-culture imagery and ball-park informality were amplified by the contingent of senior citizens among the performers.
At the opposite end of the age scale were the children of the Afican Heritage Dancers and Drummers Junior Company who joined with their elders in an astonishing display of limber dexterity in Melvin Deal's version of a Senegalese initiation dance for women, designed to show the links between America Black urban expression and its African roots.
Raquel Pena showed, with the help of her Spanish Dance Company, another vein of ethnic creativity with her "Flamenco Suit," including some firebrand solos of her own that were among the personal triumphs of the festival.
The Arlington Dance Theatre and the Capitol Ballet set forth contrasting orders of balletic enterprise-psychodramatic subtlety in ADT's "Through the Edge," and poetic lyricism in the Capitol's "Moonlight Pas de Deux," for example. Cathy Paine and Friends, one of the city's newest modern dance troupes, brought touches of conceptual wit and oddball nonchalance into the picture with its two offerings.