The handsomely refurbished Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park has been drawing sizable audiences all along to the free, four-month festival that has become one of the liveliest of Washington's summertime dance attractions. The largest crowd yet showed up yesterday for a concert by the resident of Glen Echo Dance Theater in a program of usually substantial merit by area choreographers.
Unquestionably the piece de resistance of the afternoon was "Three Sculptures," created in 1965 for the Washington Dance Repertory Company by Pola Nirenska, and remounted by her now for the GEDT with the original taped score by Washington composer Evelyn Lohoefer de Boeck. From the opening vision of the first segment, called "Insomnia" -- a black-masked woman (Cheryl Koehler) seated on a darkly lit platform, snaking an arm ominously aloft as if it were being cranked up by rusty springs -- this is a strong, pungent work, abounding in distrubing, fresh imagery, vibrant with visceral tensions that recall Nirenska's early performing years with the German expressionist Mary Wigman.
From the insidious wrigglings of "Insomnia," the next session, "Amity," turns to tranquil ceremony, with three women dresed in pale, fruity colors and striking poses faintly Japanese in semblance. In the last "sculpture," called "Knot," another trio in hooded, silvery gray unitards pulls and twists itself into interlocking haipin configurations as arresting as they are complex. De Boeck's sonic tapestry makes a perfect aural complement for the choreography throughout the opus.
The abnormally substained phrases and intriguingly eccentric shapes of Nancy Galeota's "Steel Fingers" made a lot more sense on this occasion, with the Bach score on tape then they did some weeks ago at All Soul's Church with a (bad) live performance of the same music (the slow movement of the "Italian" Concerto). There was interest, too, though of a far more conventional sort, in Jan Tievsky's neatly structured "Contrasts." Only the limply decorative curvature of Cheryl Koehler's "On Returning to a Favorite Place After a Long Time Far Away" failed to sustain attention.