Those who sun "student" dance concerts in favor of those with a more professional luster would do well to catch a glimpse of the goings-on over at American University's Clendenen Theater. Two dances -- "Scotch Tape," by guest artist June Finch, and "Chairpillow," by avant-garde legen Yvonne Rainer -- on this primarily student-performed-and-choreographed program bring out the very best in these yound dancers: their warmth, their burgeoning technical talents, and their ability to be very funny indeed.
"Scotch Tape" (the name refers to the soundtrack of Scottish bagpipes and Gaelic songs, not to the adhesive product) fits its 11 cherry participants like a favorite suit of clothes. Finch has seized upon the strengths of each dancer, and featured every one in an elaborate series of quirky, folk-influenced solos, duets, trios and group exchanges. In their bright leotards and plaid ribbon belts, the dancers connect and scatter like fireworks across a summer sky.
"Chairpillow" fits its eight deadpan women like a pair of dirty old sneakers. Forsaking all notions of virtuosity and flash, the dancers sit, poker-faced, in folding chairs, holding pillows on their jean-clad laps. As an Ike and Tina Turner song blasts about them, they perform a series of precise, dippy tasks: drop pillow on floor, roll off chair onto hip, snap fingers stand up, move chair two inches. The results are hilarious. Kudos to Bobbi Bauman Vischi, who reconstructed Rainer's dance and taught the performers to maintain an impossibly even energy level.
The program continues through Sunday.