A romantic among Washington's modern dancers, Murray Spalding relies so much on ballet and ballroom, on stylishness and sentiment, that performing in a sanctuary probably won't save her from being excommunicated by the Modern Dance Council.
In the classroom primer that opened her small company's Thursday to Saturday program at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Spalding confessed her aversion to contraction, thrust and all other stern movement a devout modern ought to reiterate. Three women and a man, each in differently tinted overalls, moved along transverse lines doing simple steps at first. Although they were barefoot and tackled the gradually more demanding combinations freely, their work was reminiscent of such strictly classical technique displays as Harald Lander's "Etudes."
The costuming for "Suite Solitaire" was elegant, silken white blouses and loose trousers in different wine sheens. Arms that seemed to search for an embrace gave a ballroom tone to this set of solos, duets and lineups for Mary Giudici, Jan Taylor, Steve Peters and Spalding.A retarded flow predominated, perhaps too much, as the dancers moved to Jane Olivor's singing of nostalgic hits.
"The Offered" was Spalding's darkest, weightiest work. More gesture and motion than sustained dance, it suggested that black Mass, the concentration camp and the medical experiment as Spalding offered her life and Peters took it.
How much of a romantic Murray Spalding is was shown in her newest piece, "The Doubtful Guest." It is based on a comic Edward Gorey tale, but the music the choreographer chose to accompany its scurries and puzzlements was by the moody Frederic Chopin.