In the course of the final presentation by the Third Dance Theatre at Grace Church last night, dancer-choreographer Harry Streep addressed a series of queries to the audience, among which were: "What am I giving you? Nothing? Am I imposing on you? Am I oblivious of your rights?" No one in the audience for the start of this year's Georgetown Dance Series had the gumption to reply on the spot. But in a way, the evening as a whole summed up to a dismaying and definitively affirmative answer.
Streep's work isn't devoid of interesting concepts. He uses bits of spoken or recorded monologue, intermittent blues, folk or rock music, volatile but meandering movement soliloquies, dramatically suggestive gesture, and pantomine to weave pieces that amount to ruminations on life and art. In "Underline for example, a Streep solo, he mimics a put-uupon waiter, takes a shave, does a mock music hall number, decides to "make a dance about living," reads a newspaper, and tears it into little bits.
Concepts, however, are one thinng, and artistically wrought realization another. "Underline" may sound moderately diverting in description, but in actuality it seemed a shapeless and sophomoric patchwork, and the rest of the program, danced by Streep and Myrna Parker, followed suit.
Streep strikes one as a throwback to that '60s esthetic according to which artists were obliged to "get it all out" on stage, to demolish the barriers between art and "life" and to "involve" the audience in the "creative process." bThere were a few -- Anna Halprin, for one -- who actually managed to do this sort of thing in an insightful and revelatory fashion. On the basis of last night's sampler, though, Streep doesn't seem to have gotten beyond the tedium of self-indulgence and banal attitudingizing. Discipline may be an old-fashioned word, but its artistic benefits know no generational limits.