In only a brief few years, Sharon Wyrrick has moved into the foreground of Washington dance as one of the area's most interesting, productive and imaginative choreographers. The program by her troupe, Full Circle, at the Dance Place this past weekend--containing two premieres and other repertory dating back to 1981--not only offered further confirmation of her stature, but showed too that she is continuing to grow artistically.
Wyrrick was raised in Oklahoma, and her formidable dance background has included study and performance in both ballet and a plethora of modern dance modes. Since earning a graduate degree in dance at American University in 1980, she has also taught and performed widely in the Washington environs and elsewhere, while continuing to choreograph about four new works each year--a precocious accomplishment in itself. She founded Full Circle in 1981, and has now opened her own studio, D.C. Danceworks, on F Street.
The first choreography she exhibited here was much indebted to the Humphrey-Limon approach, in its form, flow and sentiment. More recently, Wyrrick has taken a sharp turn toward highly patterned, ritualistic dances of a distinctly "post-modern" cast.
The development is somewhat surprising, since it seems to go against Wyrrick's natural grain as a performer--she's a fine, appealing dancer, with an instinctive proclivity toward lyricism. Yet in the end, the combination succeeds; Wyrrick is making pattern dances with a difference, with a softer, gentler contour than others who work in a similar vein. As a consequence, she seems to be "humanizing" a dance idiom based on repetitive geometric patterning--the fusion of mathematical formalism and gestural fluidity in her works is what gives them their intriguing individual stamp.
"Folding," which had its Washington premiere on this program, is a new solo for Wyrrick herself, and it's a neat tour de force. It's got a set consisting of a wooden rocking chair and small table resting on an oblong of sailcloth, with small stacks of paper at the edge. The lights go out, and we hear the sound of paper being scrunched up in a fist. When the lights rise, Wyrrick treats us to a virtuoso essay in the varieties of flexure, alternating between paper and her body as raw material, and concluding by enfolding her whole self in a cocoon of cloth.
The other, even more impressive premiere was the complete trilogy "Currents," with a new group dance, "Crossing," added to the previously composed "Sunder," for large ensemble, and the solo "Fix." To an excellent pulse music score by Anthony Davis, "Crossing" complements the ominous "Sunder" and the compulsive "Fix" with scooping, twisting, lunging motifs, and a magical adagio coda in which the dancers drift offstage like stars disappearing into celestial mist. Also persuasively performed were the earlier works "Drive" and "Task."