Dance Arts/Moving Arts, a relatively new Washington entity based at the Church of the Epiphany, describes itself as a forum for experimental choreography, and as such merits interest and encouragement. At the same time, as demonstrated this past weekend by a DA/MA-sponsored program of dance and performance poetry, this is not the place to look for smoothly finished work -- loose ends and rough spots come with the territory.
The program's single unadulterated dance piece was by Cynthia Berkshire, a graduate student at George Washington University who's also studied under Kei Takei and Lucinda Childs. "Labyrinth," for four women, with music by Chris Beaven, has some of Childs' rigorous patterning and some of Takei's primitive awe about it, and the work does sustain a consistent style and texture. Once the texture is established, though, momentum flags -- no imperative shape or statement evolves from it. Berkshire's clear concept and command of her idiom, however, are hopeful signs for the future.
The evening's most intriguing item was Part I of "The Dark Dance" by lawyer-poet-choreographer Peter Noterman, in which four women gravitated about stealthily and exceedingly slowly in near-total darkness, producing an eerily nebulous effect at the very edge of vision. The idea, however, was developed no further. The rest of Noterman's offerings seemed borderline sophomoric, with flashes of flair but also more naivete' than craft; these included Part II of "The Dark Dance," featuring an aria from "Candide" and dancers in facetious animal acts; "Afterwords," a Noterman solo about intellect and sex in Washington; and "The Civil War," another Noterman solo, with slides, that scolded America for bellicosity with lines like, "When you plant death, you get death."