Last April in a Georgetown church, the Lynda Gattozzi/Rosemary Nolen Dance Company--then but a year in existence--danced a crazy quilt of a program that seemed, if not exactly earthshaking or revolutionary, at least promisingly fresh. You win some, you lose some. With a wholly new repertoire (five premieres) and a largely new complement of dancers (six out of 10), the same troupe at Dance Place this weekend looked like just another fair to middling, ad hoc modern dance outfit with no discernible raison d'e tre.
The performances were well produced and ably danced; from this standpoint, the evening was mildly enjoyable. But unless you were willing to settle for fun and games as a choreographic palette, this wasn't adequate compensation for the anemic bill of fare. As in last year's assortment, there was no stylistic center or uniformity--a little bit of this and that. This is no sin in itself and can even be a virtue on occasion, when the diversity is justified by substance. In this instance, however, the hopping from one idiom to another struck one as superficial dabbling.
Gattozzi's "Rock Paper Scissors (the game)," to an undistinguished rock number, featured running in circles, jogging, pop dance imagery and a moment of pushing and shoving. The same choreographer's "Bitches and Other Buddies," to a routinely noodling Lutoslawski score, had four women in short tennis skirts outlining a frisky, negligible romp of inscrutable purpose. "Glyph," by Nolen, was a trite sculptural duet in the well-worn mold of the antique frieze. In Nolen's "Still Life," which had the evening's most frequent flashes of ingenuity, three women clicked through snapshot poses of stereotyped social behavior, and then mouthed idle phrases about wearables, looks and flirting, to the accompaniment of a pair of Laurie Anderson songs. What it lacked was the ironic bite that gives Anderson's numbers their piquancy.
The concluding "Against the Traffic" was the first collaborative effort by Gattozzi and Nolen, with an original rock score ("Robot Folk Suite") by Bruce Nolen and Jim Mulrooney. Unfortunately, both music and dance illustrated that fashionable minimalism isn't a sufficient end unto itself--it's got to have some grit and inner motivation to escape the appearance of mannered tedium. For some reason, the seven dancers were attired in silver-gray togs with ankle warmers that looked for all the world like stylized baseball uniforms; the costumes were more interesting than the automated choreography. Incidentally, the company included two of Washington's most skilled and gifted dancers--Mary Williford and Anne McDonald--but their talents had scant exposure in this context.