Not just the power and the potential but also the peril of modern dance resides in its freedom--the individual is at liberty to ignore all forms, conventions and standards except those that are self-imposed, and to attempt to make something out of virtually nothing but his or her own vision. It's a tempting kind of art form, and in this age of exceptional license, many novices are lured into the arena. The mere desire to make dances, however, is not identical with the gift, the means or the ability to do so. Unfortunately, often enough to suggest a widespread occurrence of distorted self-appraisal, one encounters a person laboring earnestly at the task of choreography with little evidence of flair, freshness or vitality in the results.
Kathy Wildberger strikes me as such a person. Young, attractive, obviously thoroughly schooled, she heads a Baltimore-based company called PATH, which she serves as chief choreographer, director and soloist. The troupe appeared at the Dance Place last weekend, displaying five works by Wildberger (including one premiere), as well as pieces by Ona Nowina-Sapinski and Olufundamaya. It would be hard to recall more than a few moments worth a second look.
Wildberger's style is a blandly eclectic fusion of hackneyed modern idioms and bits from classical ballet. Two of her pieces were pallid abstractions; one, to a Vivaldi mandolin concerto performed live, was a bungled try at neoclassic witticism; another pair of dances was tinged with synthetic exoticism. Like the Vivaldi, the rest of the music, mostly original, was mediocre, and the dancing throughout was at best fair to middling (Wildberger herself has nice leg extensions but inward slumping shoulders that mar her line). The frenetically jazzy solo by Nowina-Sapinski and the brief African-style solo by Olufundamaya were not more distinguished, except for the fine, one-man African string and percussion solo by Rashidi William E. Bowe.
Wildberger makes dances by stringing cliche' movements and poses together, adding some sound and an occasional prop, and letting things roll on in prettified tedium until the music stops. There's no harm in it, but not much point either.