There are not many choreographers these days who have the patience, the finesse or the imaginative resources to turn out the kind of painstakingly intimate work Phoebe Neville has made her forte.
As the season's final installment of the Georgetown Dance Series at Grace Church last night, the New York-based Neville, who's been making dances since 1961, showed four of her repertory pieces -- two solos for herself and two trios in which she was joined by Tryntze Shapli and Sheila Kaminsky. All are deliberately contained dreamscapes, often slow in pace and repetitive in pattern. Like dreams, they have a nocturnal strangeness and the weight and tone of drama, but their significance seems to lie just beyond one's conscious grasp. What holds them together is an intuitive logic of fantasy; one gets the feeling that if one could see these dances in sleep, the meanings would become perfectly clear. Choreographically, the palette of movement is relatively limited, but it's molded with much anatomical and psychological subtlety.
Neville's own pre-Colombian look and centered intensity as a performer contribute heavily to the impact of her work. This was especially evident in the two hallucinatory solos -- "Ladydance," with its contrasted repression and impetuosity, and the silent "Passage," a voyage of introspection. Both the trios -- "Dodona," with a score by Skip La Plante, and "Tigris," with music by Carole Weber -- suggest archaic ritual in their measured tableaux and incantatory sounds. The animal imagery of the latter work is particularly striking.
Neville and Shapli also danced Remy Charlip's delightful "Twelve Contra Dances" -- with its Klee-like linearity and romping warmth, an ideal complement to Neville's denser style.
The program repeats tonight and tomorrow night.