Mayor Marion Barry declared Saturday "Peace Through the Arts Day," and Greg Reynolds, a young Washington choreographer, helped with the evening celebrations by leading a dance around the Washinton Monument, and then presenting his dance company at the nearby Sylvan Theater.
Proceedings at the monument, coinciding with dusk, were pleasantly peaceful, as most of the audience joined hands to form a large ring around the base of what Reynolds in his opening speech dubbed "a tower of peace." following his instructions, people in the ring proceeded to dance a slow pavane to Pachelbel's Canon in D."
Planes decending slowly over the river to National Aiport and the lights coming on all over the Mall provided a handsome background. In addition to the dancing, there were readings from great books, a litany of the world's nations, and the release of balloons and white doves. One tended to worry about the birds, for they seemed disoriented by their sudden freedom, the gathering darkness and the floodlit-monument.
Erika Thimey's "A Fear Not of One," opened the performance by Reynolds' troupe. Strong stances, powerful thrust and sharp contractions make this women's piece a first-rate example of the serious "old modern" dance. mIt illustrates lines from T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" in a musical setting by Evelyn Lohoefer.
Reynolds' dancers didn't quite have the control to temper Thimey's powerful phrases into a continuum of movement. Sometimes their sudden release of energy caricatured a gesture or step, but the ample proportions of the Sylvan's stage gave the choreography of this 1951 piece the needed space compared to the polished revival earlier this summer by Capitol Hill Consortium at the small Market Five Gallery in the Eastern Market.
Three of Greg Reynold's own works formed the bulk of the program. They were all steeped in meaning. "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," contrasts two couples, one pair doing acrobatic adagio, and the other pair holding symbolic poses. Presumably, this has something to do with the dual manifestations of essential natures. "The Passion According to Mary" juggled Mary and Eve, Christ and Abel, Judas and Cain, in a slow-motion pantomime that had a few effective poses but little movement of interest.
Reynolds' best work was a serial abstraction of the hula, called "The Maiden's Dream." Again we heard Pachelbel's "Canon"; Reynolds stood in tan tights, his back to the audience, posing seductively, while four women undulated around him with caressing motions. Betsey Beckman, as the principal woman, did project innocence, sensuality and the state of dreaming.
Greg Reynolds abstains from substantial choreography but hankers for big themes and has a definite facility for words. Perhaps he should try play-writing instead of making dances.