The most striking thing about the Metropolitan Dance Association's Independent Choreographer's Concert -- given four showings at the Dance Place this past weekend -- was the range of approaches displayed in the seven works chosen by audition.
The word "independent" here is meant to signify that these are choreographers who do not have troupes of their own; for this very reason, the MDA provides them an annual showcase. A number of the pieces have been produced previously by area companies -- it wasn't clear whether any were brand new.
Independence, however, has another dimension, that of going one's own way, technically or stylistically or both, and this meaning was liberally illustrated by the MDA program.
Priscilla Barden's "Celtic Muir," for instance, is a diluted throwback to the impressionism of Humphrey's "Water Study." "Sector," Ron Paul's spacy solo to music of Reich and Glass, mixes Buck Rogers and narcissism. Lonna Wilkinson's dry, angular and cryptic "Reflect/Effect" wears the "post-modern" label like a badge. Nancy Galeota's duo "Steel Fingers," to Bach, defies categorization but plays in sporadically interesting ways with a tension between image and music.
"Stravinsky Quartet" is an amusing theatrical trifle by Daniel West about three sirens and their bored victim, who may or may not be imagining them. Caryn Orenberg's "Blessed Be the Darkness" strives awkwardly and vainly towards expressionistic intensity. And, finally, Robin Williams' "Toccata," set to lush organ music by Widor, is pure choregraphic schmaltz.
The diversity was welcome and so were the intermittent flashes of imagination. The evening's overall impression, however, was one of modest ideas and still more modest craft floundering about in a variety if idiomatic guises -- no breakthroughs in evidence here.