A new work by Pola Nirenska was premiered by Glen Echo Park's resident dancers early yesterday afternoon and a new company, the Hampton & Harty Dance Ensemble, made its debut at the later matinee.
Nirenska, in mourning for "those I loved who are no more," choreographed a series of entrances and exits by five women on whose backs the weight of the world's sorrow is borne. They are Schiller's figures from Tartarus, Michelangelo's sybils, even the one young girl among them is larger than life. When they appear, first in silhouette behind a scrim, then in clear view, their steps are heavy, their arms rend the air. Moments of anger and consolation end ephemerally as they swing their skirts like funeral bells to the piano chords in Bloch's first concerto grosso. At the close of this "Dirge," the five stare blindly into the hall and shuffle away.
The new company seemed like two. Eric Hampton choreographed for barefoot performers, but it was, nonetheless, ballet. His "A Nocturne," a trio to Chopin, spun detailed legwork, long lifts and plastic poses into a dance with Romantic thrust of which he was the hero. His "Push," to Prokofiev, was an uneven satire on choreographic quandaries for a long line of women and a lone male. Kathy Harty's "Vignettes from a Piazza" was a modern dance work on Italian Renaissance themes. To music by Vaughan Williams, Harty was a good architect, skillfully deploying groups of women and maidens despite a limited step vocabulary.