Fittingly enough, as the Maryland Dance Theater enters its 10th anniversary season, it appears to have reached an enviable plateau of artistic maturity. Since its founding by Dorothy Madden, and with growing impetus under its present directors, Larry and Anne Warren, the troupe has evolved into one of the area's most consistently solid, adventurous and exciting dance organizations, and one that can hold its head high in the national arena as well.
The three newest works to enter the repertory, on display this past weekend in performances at the Publick Playhouse, do further credit to the perspicacity of the directors. Though none qualifies as a masterwork, each is a composition of substance and originality, and the three together make a smartly contrasted trio.
Hannah Kahn's "Joint Venture," which was commissioned specially for MDT, calls for seven dancers and is set to the gallivanting scherzo from the Brahm's A-Major Piano Quartet. The movement is marked by those oddly slicing, coiling, thrusting gestures of the torso, head and arms that amount to a Kahn signature. Negotiated here with apt if not always effective gusto, the piece has Kahn's customary musicality; if it isn't one of her most convincing efforts, it's because the grand line is often obscured behind embellishing details.
"Pell Mell," by Elisa Monte of the Martha Graham company, divides its ensemble of 10 into richly counter pointed platoons, slowly generating sculptural forms that ooze, sway and undulate across the stage to the hypnotic throb of the Terry Riley score. The work lacks a clearly defined commanding structure, but it's so replete with invention that it leaves one with a strong desire to see more from this choreographer.
Rachel Lampert's "Doing the Dance, " in which a pair of dancers split from the mass and discuss their rebellion against choreographic conformity as they continue to prance about, made a nice, lightweight finale. Also on the program were Larry Warren's brilliantly droll premonition of the connubial state, called "Playet," and Murray Louis' hectic abstraction, "Bach Suites." The dancing throughout was exceptionally sharp, lively and sensitive.