Improvisations nowadays are often too modest to prompt big questions such as whether doing them in public is art or exercise, inspiration or self-indulgence. Moreover, the audience is likely to respond to the unimprovised structural units and displays of personality as much as to on-the-spot invention.
Of the 10 motion improvisers whose individual and collaborative work was shown at Dance Place on the weekend, two of the most noticeable, Roger Neece and Alex Rounds, imposed temperament on physical activity. Neece seemed a restless, rough-and-tumble fellow in both the Contact Improvisation group and the comic strip charade, "Artman meets Ronald Reagan." The Artman hero, a sort of cultural Kent Smith, rises and rustles as the chief villain sends whammies and muscle to do him in. Rounds seemed self-composed and proud of his muscular body while rolling and rising in soft, rounded, resilient calisthenics.
It was action one noticed first as David Appel and Beth Easterly moved through solos or interacted with other bodies. Easterly was concerned with alternation of pose and motion. The cumulative effect was of conscientious drudgery. Appeal developed the intimate, "crazy" things people do when alone into dynamic dance phrases. He always tried to be casual but, particularly in the air, could not hide the appearance of being skilled. The impression he left behind was that of an inventor and thinker.