The emphasis of Maida Withers' work is usually on process. One thinks of her Dance Construction Co. as improvising movement sequences, practicing them, mixing them with other media and, finally, reconstructing them in order to clarify how they evolved. For "Woman See," which premiered last weekend at George Washington University's Studio K, what counts is the product. All guns were aimed at one target: the story of a woman's liberation.
The protagonist -- Withers herself or an alter ego -- is not a stereotype. She's a dancer, a lover, a mother and cook. Her body is capable of all those functions, but fundamentally it is an animal's body that crouches and contracts in order to defecate, deliver and defend itself as well as in order to dance. Such specifics prevent this "journey" from being just a political tract. There was no danger that it might have become a true confession because Withers perceives of liberation as a biological process. The protagonist evolved from innocence and the search for enslavement to facing the daily work, dance work, that always remains to be done.
As a structure, "Woman See" was masterful. A few movement themes of a typical Withers windup -- half unstretching, carefully balancing, brusquely coiling, almost squatting, groping -- are stated in a film clip by the handsome, big-boned choreographer with the billowing gray hair. From these motions most of the dancing derives, though one doesn't realize it until Withers chooses to make dramatic points.
The cast of six, just right as character types for the pity and irony of the piece, should have danced more sharply.