The works in the Erika Thimey retrospective were chosen from those choreographed only in the last 29 years, but they reflect the concerns of a much longer life in modern dance.Thimey began her career in the artistic ferment of Central Europe after World War I and then came to conquer North America as a missionary for Mary Wigman long before World War II. Once here, she traveled on paths on her own choosing. For several seasons she toured the United States partnered by a fellow ex-European, Jan Veen. In Chicago, she began to explore choreography for church performances. During her Washington years, she often did choreography for audiences of children, and taught several generations of American dancers.
Nominally, Thimey retired a few months ago, but last night was actually the premiere of the new finale to "Festive Anticipation." With the dancers' torsos turned out in a spirally skewed way, their backs used flexibly and their steps having a stylized ease, this work is a concise summary of modern dance's tendency to imitate the baroque. The music was baroque, from Corelli's 8th concerto grosso.
Quite a contrast was "A Fear Not of One," danced to a text for female chorus from T. S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral." The austere groupings, weighty tread, sharp reflex motions and monumental stances in this women's quartet of 1959 recalled the matriarchal style of Thimey's beginnings. w
A skit for two animated sacks on a seesaw was a brief reference to Thimey's work for the kindergarten set, and three songs from Benhamin Britten's "Ceremoney of Carols" gave samples of her not overly pious altar choreography. Thimey knows the range of modern dance. Her neat stylistic signature contains the seeds of her limitations. She tends to be too literal rhythmically, and she does not dare often enough to shatter her own clear patterns.
The program performed by the D.C. Dance Consortium in the art gallery of the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, will be repeated today at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.