Imagine a collaboration between a painter and a dancer. What do you see? Lots of action, right? Vivid brushstrokes, swirling arms, and legs, dabs of paint on the dancer, wild, abandon on the part of the artist?
Not in the case of Sandy Walker and Ellen Webb. They're cozy folk, slow-moving and compuslively careful partners who collaborate in an irritatingly ganetle and minimal way. Their performance last night at the Washington Project for the Arts unfurled in fits and starts. Walker, a thin, bespectacled fellow with a penchant for colored tape and large black X's and O's, began each "duet" by fastidiously setting up various floor displays made of ropes or brightly hued canvas.
Then Webb, a calm, knowing dancer, would contemplate her associate's creation and launch into a like-minded movement pattern having vaguely to do with line or flatness or angle or shape. These improvised flurries of dancing were usually as basic and limited as Walker's streams of X's and O's.
Aside from these ever-so-polite ventures, the couple screened a film about their collaborative process (many rough drafts of X's and O's, the pouring of tea for two, Webb stepping around a painted triangle , etc . . .), and, for a short while, traded art forms (Webb paints better than Walker dances). In addition, Webb offered Walker her body as sculptural material. Manipulative, you think. A trifle, but the painter's dealings with the dancer's limbs were so anemic, so tentative, that potentially exciting idea never got off the ground.