Everything was looking up at the Dance Exchange Performance Company's program at Dance Place this past weekend. The company, whose participants ranged, as ever, from trained dancers to kids to senior citizens, appeared in better, smoother, more disciplined shape than in any previous appearance.
Founder-director-choreographer Liz Lerman was physically leaner and also sharper than in recent seasons, with notably beneficial effect on the power and expressiveness of her dancing. The addition to the company of Diane Floyd, one of Washington's most adept and appealing modern dancers, was a further enhancement, along with the more rigorous and polished contributions of such company veterans as Mary Buckley and Don Zuckerman.
Best news of all was Lerman's latest work, "Docudance," for a cast of nine, her most securely integrated, provocative and wildly imaginative creation in the last several years. It's a zany concoction, part revue, part satirical sketch, part newsreel-in-motion, that -- as Lerman announces at the start -- is about "politics and social issues."
Such themes are nothing new for Lerman, but this time she's taken great strides in putting across her points with sufficient focus and accent. The piece is complex enough to warrant extended analysis, but an example may convey some of its flavor -- at one point the dancers, portraying a lawyer, an executive and a lobbyist, move in phrases in which "seconds of dancing equal dollars of income; what you see is what they get."
Another new dance, "In the Text," dealing with both puritanical and liberated views of sex, had some bright invention and was beautifully performed by a female trio, but seemed too patly schematic. Two other pieces, "In the Gallery" and the older "Woman of the Clear Vision," looked greatly tightened-up, with keenly honed performances to match.