That comely dancer, Murray Spalding, in her prime of life, has become a veteran of the Washington scene. After performing and choreographing here for almost a decade, she was fully entitled to cap the Georgetown Dance Series with a retrospective of her own work.
Not that this weekend's program at Grace Church was made up of mere revivals. Spalding is too enterprising for that. Instead, she showed an intriguing new work based on situations, step combinations and costumes from a repertory dating back to 1971. There were even Spalding dancers from the past in this 1 1/2-hour continuum called "A Choreographer's Journey."
Sometimes the fusion of elements from different pieces worked engagingly as when Spalding, using the threatening muscle flexing of her 1980 "Duet," stepped into the 1973 "Bathroom Games" to challenge a toothpaste-besmeared and entowled Sid Miller. She wanted him to attempt something more strenuous than a dance based on the daily routine and, indeed, he began to flex also. Then, Steve Peters of the stolid rib cage ousted him for a more proper passage of "Duet." At other times, the quotes and paraphrases were too brief to evoke the full pieces or create more than flux on the dance floor.
Spalding's retrospective collage, which will be performed again Friday and Saturday, differs in effect from Merce Cunningham's compositionally similar series of "Events" because her work encompasses characterization and narrative as well as pure motion pieces. Its strength is not in coming or developing movement, but in being unafraid to test diverse ideas.