Performing spaces in this city suitable for dance are hardly plentiful, and so it was the National Academy of Science's plush and spacious auditorium that proved the ultimate star of Saturday night's "Grand Divertissement: an evening of visual and performing art."
The artistic bill of fare began with the premiere exhibit of Philip Ratner's craggy, elongated portraits in ink and bronze, and led to an oddly mixed -- both in quality and style -- program of dance and music.
"Who's on First," Liz Lerman's satirical study of sports versus dance, appeared in group, rather than in its original solo form. Eleven members of the Dance Exchange hurled themselves through a frenzy of words, sweat, slow-motion baseball, pirouettes and acrobatics to make a wry, winning statement about two very particular brands of spectacle.
David Perry, a master of classical guitar and voice, took on the personae of such men as Bach, Puccini and Debussy in a sometimes-arch, sometimes-tender rendition of Dominick Argento's "Letters from Composers."
The proficient but rather cold Glen Echo Dance Theater ended the evening with three works by various members of their troupe. All shared an odd narcissism, a pseudo-holiness, and a troubling lack of innovative movement or message.