Diane Frank and Deborah Riley. The names fit together so smoothly, as though their choreographic collaboration had been pre-ordained. Watch these two long-limbed women lunge and fall and support one another onstage, and the connection makes even more sense. There's a subtle comingling of articulation and intimacy that filters through everything they do.
For the past five years, Frank and Riley have been based in New York City, performing regularly with post-modern dance choreographer Douglas Dunn, and shaping their own work as well. Both trained in the cerebral, straight-backed technique of Merce Cunningham, but they've adapted rather than rejected his ways. They move like aristocratic colts; favor original, electronic musical scores; and use stopwatches to time their dances down to the second.
For the most part, they have fashioned smaller works -- duets primarily, a quartet two years back. Yet for the last three weeks, Frank and Riley have gone the large-scale, space-devouring route. Over at the Dance Place in the heart of Adams Morgan, a collection of New York performers, local choreographers (Cathy Paine, Lonna Wilkinson) and Dance Place students have been rehearsing "Scene/Herd," Frank and Riley's latest, evening-length opus. Set to a score by John Driscoll and Linda Fisher, the dance makes superb use of the studio space. Throughout the myriad partnerings, lifts, runs, rolls and leaps, not an inch of floor is left unexplored. DIANE FRANK AND DEBORAH RILEY: Saturday, at 8 and Sunday at 5 at The Dance Place, 2424 18th Street NW. Admission $4. 462-1321.