It's rare that a small, modern dance company presents a program where all the music is that of a great 20th-century composer, so the Louis Tupler Washington Dance Company's "Tribute to Stravinsky" was an unusual treat. The lecture/performance Saturday night at Georgetown's Dumbarton Church was a sampler of well-known and more obscure Stravinsky pieces that served as an introduction for dancers and audience alike.
Tupler obviously adores Stravinsky, and his informal lecture was a touchingly personal demonstration of that adoration. Anecdotes, historical background and musical analysis prefaced each dance episode, and Tupler was so bent on making sure the audience got his points that he used his dancers to "instant replay" or preplay what he wished to emphasize in each score. The dances were intended to be more in the nature of illustrations of the brief musical excerpts than works of art in themselves. Some of the more familiar pieces ("Petrouchka" or "Firebird") looked like abstractions built on the iconography of ballets whose steps and stories had been lost long ago.
The dancers, from the company's teen and adult production groups, were well-rehearsed and performed the simple choreography as grandly as the tiny space allowed. Lighting and musical tape quality were far above par for such a small group.