How the 8 members of the Munich Dance Project staved off heat prostration is hard to know. Making their first appearance in the United States at the Washington Performing Arts last night, they danced through most of a two-hour opus with their heads and faces tightly swathed in cloth. Add the stage lights and an unairconditioned hall overfilled with sweating spectators, and you've got an exercise in self-immolation.
After what they put themselves through, it may well seem uncharitable to say anything less than complimentary about the artistic content of the program. Unfortunately, one suspects that "I No Longer Dream" -- the evening-length "journey through the human consciousness" by the troupe's founder-director, Birgitta Trommler -- would seem just as dreary under the best of climatic conditions.
"I No Longer Dream" displays stylistic links with such contemporary American figures as Laura Dean (spinning; the drone music by Steve Reich) and Kei Takei (cyclical rituals; white, Eastern-looking togs), as well as with such German-derived troupes as Zero Moving Company (the use of martial arts; the masks, the cluster formations) and Group Motion (the parachute canopy; the mystical mumbo-jumbo of the program notes). But these elements don't emerge organically from any clear dance concept. Instead, they seem arbitrarily invoked to lend an air of metaphysical sanctimony to an obsure and pretentious scenario. Despite a rapt, smoothly modulated performance by the dancers, the work remained pointlessly repetitious, static and arid.