Traditionally, American modern dance companies have been founded on the style and vision of one individual whose image permeates the company. During the past decade a new trend has caught hold in which dance companies function as repertory groups for the works of several people who share performances, dancers and expenses. One necessary result is that a strong company style is usually not projected by the dancers; rather, a blander, more versatile style is necessary since dancers must be prepared to work with various choreographers. Another possibly inevitable consequence of this cross-pollination is that the choreographers themselves produce works which are more and more interchangeable.
One of these new breed is the North Carolina-based New Performing Dance Company. In a concert at St. James Church on Saturday and Sunday, NPDC presented works by all three members -- Ron Paul, Bruce Vrana and Lee Wenger. The company has a strong visual arts orientation, with sets and costumes designed by the choreographers, and with dances which emphasize visual appeal over kinetic or dynamic effect.
Paul, whose work is familiar to D.C. audiences, presented "Turning Point" and the premiere of "Hanging Garden." Both are duets concerned with the creation of an emotionally charged atmosphere through tightly circumscribed movement. Vrana's "Unit" is a Pilobolus-style dance in which bodies interlace to form symbiotic relationships. Artistic director Wenger's "Outing" is personably danced, and her "Terrain" is a showcase for the impressive technique of the company.