June Anderson/Dance, a small modern dance outfit out of New York, made its area debut last night at the Washington Project for the Arts. Unfortunately, the performance was an object lesson in precisely the sort of thing WPA has no business presenting. Indeed, it wouldn't be easy to find compelling reasons for programming this group anywhere, but certainly not under the banner of an organization dedicated to exploring the innovative frontiers of contemporary arts.
To be sure, Anderson -- the group's founder-director-choreographer-designer, a Wesleyan graduate who now teaches at the Erick Hawkins studio -- has a penchant for collaboration with composers and creative artists in other media. The results, however, if fairly represented by last night's sampling, are simple-minded and banal. In "Mystical 7" (the titles were more intriguing by far than the works they labeled), the troupe's three dancers wore colored lights on their ankles and faces and waved others with their hands, but the patterns were less interesting than city illumination seen from the air. "Moondance" was little more than a dull slide show derived from a similar piece for a large group performed out-of-doors at night. Two sections from "Poems for the End of the World" and the five-part "Morning" (with translucent, neoprimitive "murals" by Anderson) bore no perceptible relation to their names; the dance content was the same drab stuff.
In all of this, the dancers were poorly coordinated as a group and technically and expressively weak as individuals. The choreography, consistent in its undifferentiated monotony of texture, tempo and dynamics, was nondescript in style and sophomoric in form. The music by John Manchester and Marc Blandori, most of it based on rhythmic ostinatos, was competent but undistinguished. Oh yes, there was one good thing -- the program was mercifully short.