Women in long white gowns, carrying prayer stools, planted themselves firmly on the ground and sat spread-legged to stretch in supplication. Then, knees closed, they bowed in humility. Palms open, their hands quivered with excitement.This was the opening of "Icon" by John Perpener, whose works, along with one by Alvin Mayes, were presented by University of Maryland dancers at the College Park campus this weekend.
Since its title and characters reminded one of Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" -- the classic of gospel modern dance -- one began to suspect that Perpener would comment on the Ailey. He didn't. Perpener remained mum, shaping his dance as if its topic and manner were inescapable facts of life.
Such cool acceptance of things was apparent in most of the works in this program, and prevented choreography of some skill from building to a climax or reaching a conclusion.
Perpener, in his "Intermezzojangle" solo, restated Mr. Bojangle's tap style in modern dance terms but without sufficient point of view. "Birdland," also by Perpener, played with images of women as winged things that never strive to flee nor feel the limits of their cage.
Only "Landing," another solo by the agile Perpener, seemed complete at its lone figure, deposited on new ground, accepted its fate actively, consciously.