An increasinly popular format for Washington dance concerts is an adhoc alliance of independent choreographers who pool dancers and costs to present a joint program probably none of them sustain or afford singly. It makes good practical sense, and the resulting diversity of material tends to have artistic advantages as well.
Last night at All Souls Church, Pierce Hall, a trio of enterprising young dance makers -- Nancy Galeota, Cissy Whipp and Sharon Wyrrick -- offered an event with the timely label, "Solstice." To new and recent work by all three was added a piece by guest choreographer Barbara Roan, who created "Serpent Song" during a residency at American University last year.
Among tthe 50 or so enthusiastic spectators in the small but attractive hall was Joan Mondale, who had responded to a friend's invitation and said she found the evening "quite special."
Within its own frame of refrence -- modestly scaled work by indigenous, relatively inexperienced hands -- it was. The program was consistently absorbing, mostly free of cliche, and sparked here and there by genuinely compelling ideas.
Whipp's "Drives," involving film, tape collage and poetry, seemed pretty ramshackle in its multimedia aspects, but it was more than usually interesting as a movement composition. The restive squirming and preening of the opening gave way to more energetic forays and finally to a spaced-out tranquality that seemed to resolve all prior tensions. The piece might have been stronger still but for Whipp's rehearsal injury, which forced a last-minute conversion of this trio (and "Serpent Song" as well) into a duet.
Arresting shape -- a second dancer made her entrance by sliding under her almost prone colleague, the two momentarily like a pair of startled crocodiles -- was the hall mark of Galeota's "Steel Fingers." The slow movement of Bach's "Italian Concerto," however, sounded at cross purposes with the choreography in every respect. Wyrrick's two pieces -- the placid "Dances for a Summer's Solstice," with a texture like Vaseline and the borderline cute "Hooray," -- were neatly crafted but too close to sugary for comfort. Wyrrick and Diane DeFries, however, were effectively slithery in the provocative "Serpent Song."