The title of one of the works in the program by Claudia Murphey and Company at the Dance Place this past weekend was "After Images." The trouble with the event was that it didn't leave any, and the moral, perhaps, was that nice isn't enough.
All five pieces were created over the past two years by Murphey, who is director of dance at George Mason University, and they were ably performed by the company of eight.The general impression was that of good workbook choreography in a middle-of-the-road modern dance vein. Though the basic movement material seems fairly prosaic, Murphey has no trouble inventing efficient craftsmanlike combinations, and she also has an eye for arresting ensemble patterns.
But if there was little to object to, there was also hardly anything to get excited about. Certain recurring usages, moreover, thretened monotony -- the stop-go-stop phraseology, for instance; the excessive unison passages; the unchanging dynamic levels.
Three of the pieces -- "Road Ends . . . No Outlet, Part II," "After Images," and Murphey's new, vaguely expressionistic solo, "For Rose" -- conveyed scant hint of an underlying motivation or controlling idea. A fundamental concept was apparent enough in the other two -- permutations of chairs as props and setting in "Seating Capacity" and quasi-robotic ritual in "Weir" -- but the themes led nowhere and consequently seemed drastically overworked. In short, there was nothing offensive about the program, but neither was there much to remember.