For people who dote on party games, a session with Improvisations Unlimited could pay off. They'd walk away from the group's latest program with a long list of the do's and don't's of do-it-yourselves entertainment.
Improvisations displayed three distinct styles of organized spontaneity Wednesday evening and last night at Washington Project for the Arts. For her "Sets," director Meriam Rosen gave word cues to the 13 dancers and one musician. The most active cues, phrases like "take a hand, shake a hand . . ." or "pop, top, stop" limited the performers' collective imagination. Movement tended to be too literal, and the performers alternated between imitating one another and resorting to individual gimmicks. When in doubt what to do next, one woman always shook her shoulders, one man stomped and another wiggled his rear. The last of the sets, with a suggestive rather than directive cue, produced the most spontaneous dancing.
Three other improvisations were based on forms and actions that the company had learned from choreographer Daniel Nagrin. These were spatially compact, rhythmically disciplined and conveyed, somewhat, a sense of direction. The midpiece, "Rituals for Twos and Watchers," though long, was an intriguing exploration of the acts of looking and watching.
Kei Takei's "Dreamcatchers" was a group ceremony of mundane and mysterious actions and colorful garb. Its unexpected moment came shortly after the opening section, when a few of the performers deviated from the commands to move and seemed, furtively, to be displaying their own free will.