Wimmer, Wimmer and Dancers, the Philadelphia-based troupe at the Marvin Theater last night, was so pious in its efforts to portray peasant life in all its raw primitivism that one almost felt guilty at not being able to respond more fervently to the attempt. The concept seemed admirable, but the results rather hallow.
The Wimmers are sisters -- Lynne, a choreographer, and Gayle, a fiber artist -- who have collaborated in a 90-minute work called "Village," inspired by travels in remote Greek settlements. The nine dancers of the troupe don't enact a story, but rather present a series of motifs, some rooted in village tasks and ritual and others more directly flavored by folk dance. A tape collage, ranging from choric chants and instrumental dances to such ambient sound as lowing cattle and thrashing surf, accompanies the work's two sections, devoted to the land and the sea. The decor -- the backdrop, for example, a kind of abstract laundry line which evokes now tents, now sails, now a raging sea -- is an integral element in the performance.
The dancers are mostly anonymous figures, but several "characters" are distinguishable -- a sort of demented town crier, a unitard-clad mermaid, a symbolic woman in white, presumably a death spirit.
"Village" inevitably calls to mind Kei Takei's "Light," but it has none of the latter's mystery or organic unfolding. For all its striving for elemental pathos and sincerity, "Village" doesn't get beyond surfacy impressionism, with a kind of scrubbed, artsy-craftsy look -- it's picturesque, but boring.