Mary-Averett Seelye is a performer who defies categorization. A tall, gaunt woman of middle age, she recites poetry--T.S. Eliot, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Wallace Stevens, Adonis (in Arabic and English) and others--in a wise and resonant voice, and accompanies these words with predominately gestural movement.
The set through which she travels consists of long cylinders of net fabric that ascend and descend erratically from the ceiling; occasionally a wooden ramp or structure appears to serve as a seat or shelter.
Seelye's brand of "performance art," which she presented last night at the District YWCA, harks back to the days of the salon, the English music hall, the college theatrical.
Outfitted in a succession of homemade, rather gaudy costumes--a sequined-studded bodysuit, flowing tunics, many ruffles and swatches of tulle--she reminds one in turn of a great blue heron, a high priestess and Auntie Mame.
Arms arcing over her head, knees bent, long feet planted firmly on the ground, her movements enrich and personify the verse she utters. Even the most abstract poems are revitalized when embued with the Seelye touch.
The program will be repeated at 8 tonight and at 4 and 8 p.m. tomorrow.