In a second evening at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, Annabelle Gamson repeated from her first program a number of the Isadora Duncan reconstructions for which she is justifiably noted. To them she added one other Duncan memento, the "blue Danube Waltzes," as well as an amplified version of Mary Wigman's "Witch Dance" of 1926, and four pieces of her own composition. It was an intriguing, thought-provoking, but not altogether satisfying experience.
It's refreshing to see a white-haired, chunkily built, 51-year-old woman performing, especially one with so much strength, discipline and subtlety. It reminds us that the dance universe is so much larger than the restricted esthetic orbit we are mostly accustomed to. And as a purveyor of living history, Gamsom also performs valuable service, watering the neglected roots of our contemporary dance idioms.
Compared with the ones she brought us three years ago, her interpretations of Duncan -- as in the gracious swayings and waftings of "blue Danube Waltzes" -- seem fuller, rounder and softer now. They have also become, thereby, truer to our received notions of what Isadora may actually have looked like.
The Wigman "Witch Dance," which begins in a sitting position, with brusque incantatory arm gestures, sharp flicks of the head and torso rolls -- all of this, together with the face mask and bright red garb somehow evoking Japanese ritual -- is a visually striking but oddly inert, cold piece, to which Gamson's addendum seems to add little. Much less convincing were Gamson's own works -- unsettled in style, unclear in motivation, and tedious to boot. Moreover, there's something disconcertingly static about Gamson's way of dancing -- when she moves, she very often seems merely to to be in transit between poses, without any rhythmical substrate or flow. Still, one wouldn't want to miss seeing her -- her program and her presence are unique.