There's something endearing about a company that tells you in a program note it might be boring, but in the case of Free Association, a five-member improvisation group, the warning was unnecessary. Appearing as a part of the Dance Project's "Two Weekends of Washington Dance," the group plays a kinetic equivalent of word association games, presenting a series of unrehearsed, loosely structured skits that melt together as one idea suggests another. The group has a zany humor that uses words as well as movement to make its points, and the inspiration seldom flagged.
The Contemporary Dancers of Alexandria, CODA for short, were the perfect complement to Free Association. This young company of six women, which has been performing for less than a year, presented a cleanly danced, well-rehearsed program of five works by both company members and outside choreographers.
Carol Anderson's "Spindrift," an evocation of waves and clouds, combines falls, runs, jumps and spins to suggest the lyrical turbulence of its subject. Victoria Hileman's "Night-shadows" depicts a society distorted by fear. The dancers dart, crouching, to scary, junglelike music by Ginastera, ever watchful of unseen dangers. Both pieces, while containing many striking individual moments, need a stronger structure to support them.
An early work of Jan Van Dyke, "Six Sections of Orange," showed off the dancers' technical prowess and precision as an ensemble. It will be interesting to watch this young company grow.