The rewards of the program by Diane Frank and Deborah Riley at the Dance Project this past weekend were very considerable but not unmixed with paradox. The two dancers are collaborators both in choreography and performance. One had the feeling that if the choreography could somehow be isolated from the performance, it would appear perilously thin and arbitrary. On the other hand, the dance and the dancing were so initmately entwined it was hard to separate them even theoretically. The virtuosity of the dancers, moreover, had an undeniably cosmetic effect. The flawness alignment of Frank and Riley, their impeccable phrasing and instinctive rhythm lent the choreography a strength and substance one would scarcely infer from its raw structure.
This situation is less common than it may sound, but there's nothing common about Frank and Riley. The two of them are based in New York, and both have worked with Douglas Dunn; Frank performed in the Washington area for some time as a member of the Maryland Dance Theater. They are thoroughbreds -- long of line, slender and sleek, with movement to match. They also share that strange combination of elegance and austerity which marks many dancers of their generation -- a fusion of refined conentration and cool neutrality.
Of the program's two works, the silent, earlier "Overlap" was by far the more compelling despite its redundancy; ringing endless changes on the title, the dancers took turns serving as fulcrum, pivot, cradle or backrest for each other. The new "Lynx" (implying, also, "links"?), to an electronic score by Martin Kalve that sounded like a radio on the fritz, looked vigorous but pointlessly scattershot.