The most gratifying thing about the Third Annual Open Choreographers' Forum at Dance Place last night was the impressive technical level that the majority of participants have achieved. Not only did the dancers move clearly and evocatively, but they shared a sophisticated stage presence, often lacking in local offerings. Even the costumes, the choice of music, and the lighting (executed in truly creative fashion by Emily Kane) seemed uniformly imaginative.
Of the eight works, three deserve special mention. "Prism," choreographed and performed by Ann Farmer and Kathy O'Brien Driscoll, established a dynamically complex partnership between two strong women. Both former members of Jan Van Dyke's company, Farmer and Driscoll now live and work in the Big Apple, and their movement ideas seemed to be original extensions of the work of several artists there: Diane Frank and Deborah Riley, who have also explored the support/resistance elements of the duet form; and Dana Reitz, who shares an obsession with continuous, curling arm and hand configurations.
In "(Antic)ipation," Sharon Wyrrick adds to her first-rate collection of group dances concerned with everyday gesture. Set to a zany, jingle-jangle score by Bobby Read, this work-in-progress contains equal doses of goofy behavior and precise, controlled movement.
First World Dance Theatre, a new and vibrant three-woman troupe, celebrates the roots of African dance and its American relatives. During the course of four pieces by Aisha Kahlil, they moved like exotic birds, imbued traditional chopping and planting motions with an easy, infectious rhythmic base, and set the unhinged swings and stomps of the native African people against the airy, pulled-in style of today's jazz dancer.