Local choreographer Addison Hoffman has turned impresario. His Prince George's Festival of Dance, Music and the Visual Arts, a series that began this past weekend and runs through next spring, brings together a host of area performers, painters and sculptors in a fine setting: the new, improved Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Md.

The first thing you noticed upon entering the theater Saturday evening was Andrew Braitman's exhibit of somber abstract paintings. The Roseland Chamber Consort -- pianist Erik Hillman, flutist Mary Beth Kiss, and oboist Becky Staup -- began the performance with a pair of lightweight, quirky trios by DeMase and Gossens. Then came the Hoffman Dance Consort, a troupe of strong dancers -- practically all of them women, and newly recruited -- who know how to make the most of essentially vapid movement material.

There's nothing worse than a nonspecific, rambling dance about emotional states. Why are the five lassies in Hoffman's "Meggin's Province" so jubilant, then so solemn? It's lovely to see women partnering women, but just how are they related? And what's the matter with that insomniac lady in guest choreographer Sara Sugihara's "Unspoken"? Sitting up in her bed, her lover slumbering beside her, she looks out mournfully, then launches into a flood of pained lunges and turns that don't begin to explain her situation. And why is the trio that peoples Hoffman's "Scenario" flailing and kicking and grimacing so fiercely at one another? Until these choreographers learn to make their dances direct and specific, these questions will never be answered.