For its third anniversary celebration at the Lee Center Saturday night, the Contemporary Dancers of Alexandria (CODA) did themselves proud. The general level of dancing was a considerable cut above the area norm in phraseology, articulation and accent, an indication that there's a strong insistence on the maintenance of a high standard in performance. The program, moreover, was shrewdly balanced and satisfying. Though there wasn't anything one would categorize as a masterwork, the prevailing craftsmanship was admirable, and each of the pieces had its quotient of interest. The choreographers were drawn from CODA's own ranks and included other area notables and New York's Hannah Kahn.
Martha Brim, a former CODA dancer, offered a new work called "Faded Love," set to four country and western songs of the ickiest sentiment. It's an amusing spoof, with four females in chintzy dresses swooning about in casual, Tharpian patterns, spicing their mock-lovelorn lamentations with the blowing of bubbles and other puns. It's a bit overextended, however--three songs or even two would have made the same points perhaps more bitingly. Carol Anderson, director of the CODA studio, has enlarged her lyrically swirling "Spindrift" with two new sections, slow and rapid. The piece remains moodily attractive but the emendations tend to dissipate rather than reinforce the effect of the whole.
Kahn's early "Spill/Quell" doesn't hang together awfully well, but its typically inventive gestures of arm and torso have a piquant charm. Diane Floyd's questing solo "Eve" got an eloquent performance from CODA director Ellen Gray Denker, and both Cathy Paine's rehearsal jest "Duet" and Jan Van Dyke's lively, ingenious abstraction "Six Sections of Orange" were splendidly set forth.