"Artist-in-residence" seems too pretentious a title for choreographer Marta Renzi. Yet here she is, fresh from the Big Apple, boogieing and galumphing her way across the stages and studios of George Washington University, adding a definite zing to an already diverse dance faculty. With her Raggedy Ann face and curls, her fat red sneakers, and her goofy/swoony body language, she's a card, a pip, the common man's Twyla Tharp.
Renzi's two contributions to last night's GWU faculty concert spilled onto the Marvin Theatre stage like honey. The movement she makes looks comfortable, seamless and strong; she and her associates (Melissa Matson, Peter Stathas) share an "aw shucks" approach to performance that allows an audience to both admire and adore them. "Louisiana Dances" had them bopping like mad, while "Thunder Road" focused on two situations: a distraught-looking woman immersed in the act of falling down, and a man and woman alternately dodging, supporting and sending messages of humor and melancholy to one another.
Maida Withers' "Whose Shoes Are These Anyway?" had the choreographer moving to Mozart before an array of Olympic film footage that depicted the very best women athletes pole-vaulting, running and the like. Withers' own jogging and phantom shot-putting seemed dwarfed beside these cinematic wonders. Beth Burkhardt set a large group through a repetitive, rather drugged-out folk dance, and talked about a solo that never occurred. Harriet Williams showed off her impressive technique in a spritely romp to lovely Ned Rorem songs. And Annie Sailer's pseudo-Eastern, overlong "The Silence Goes Violet" was at least blessed by the presence of five on-the-mark performers: the choreographer, Burkhardt, Joanne Erlebacher, Lauren Seelye-Harris and JoAnn Zinn.
The program will be repeated tonight at 8 p.m.