Lonna Wilkinson, who's been a guest faculty member at George Washington University since last fall, is a little, lucid, beautifully controlled dancer. As a choreographer she's not always quite so convincing; nevertheless, her works seem to exhibit consistently some of the same traits -- refinement, intelligience and clarity, for example -- that distinguish her performances.
None of the five new and recent dances Wilkinson and a number of her students presented at the GWU Studio Theater last night completely sustained interest, but each had its share of both admirable and likable qualities.
Wilkinson's idiom, both in its movement vocabulary and compositional strategems, seemed strongly suggestive of Merce Cunningham, who was one of her teachers. Yet there were distinctive personal colorations as well. Each of the five pieces, for example, made reference in movement or costuming to sports, and in the case of "Field," for eight dancers, athletic imagery was a central focus. All five works were also subjected to self-imposed formal limitations, which restricted the dancers degrees of freedom but liberated the choreographer's imagination. In "Movie," for instance, which was full of witty double entendres on the title, Wilkinson's feet were encased in a packing carton much of the time. And in "Perfect Piece," the soloist, again Wilkinson, confined her area of action to the stage midline, in what looked like an eccentric dance version of hopscotch.
If Wilkinson's inspirations seemed too often to wane well before the finish line, this was none-theless choreography that never failed to provide a sense of theme, structure and purpose.