For the wind-up of a teaching residency at the University of Maryland's College Park campus, the Joyce Trisler Danscompany showed its mettle in public last night at the Tawes Theater. The dancers were in fine form, far more polished than they looked for their last engagement here at the Kennedy Center.
All 10 company members are well matched in the impact they make. Their step is firm, yet feathery. In rebound, pliant forces disperse along the body in an almost sensual way. The motor energy of this style is high but not sustained. Deliberately, it seems, movement is truncated before it becomes too lyrical or grandiose. It may be impossible to become a star in the Danscompany; the technique is a leveler.
New on the program was "Bachianas" by company director Milton Myers. For his score, Myers sandwiched a Heitor Villa-Lobos "Bachianas Brasilieras" (the No. 5) between two pieces of genuine baroque music by Albinoni and J.S. Bach himself. A wedge of dancers entered to the Bach, progressing with slight retreats, then dispersing and gathering repeatedly in diverse geometric formations. For the Villa-Lobos section, there was a duo and a solo, neither quite as clipped as the ensemble movement. In the Albinoni finale, the group recapitulated key themes from the foregoing sections. The choreography was as objective as an architectural diagram.
There are two ways to look at the late Joyce Trisler's "Four Temperaments." One is to try to forget George Balanchine's arresting dances to the Paul Hindemith score he commissioned. Or one can try to look through one's memory of the Balanchine. Trisler does not emerge badly either way. She also arrived at a fragmented classicism, but from the direction of modern dance rather than ballet. In a remarkably varied set of duets, she suggests four temperamentally different male/female relationships as well as four distinct ways of partnering.
If there was a chance for the performers to show individuality, it was provided in the "Spirit of Denishawn" dances, choreographed by Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and their pupils Doris Humphrey and Klarna Pinska. William Soleau's spear exercise, Eugene Roscoe's bas relief dance, Nancy Long's romantic runs as well as the other pieces from the early modern movement were the fun part of the program.