Question: What do birds and baseball players have in common? Answer: Despite a viewing of Diane Floyd's "Aviary," a dance that purports a solution, it is still unclear.
Performed this weekend on the closing program of this season's dance series at Glen Echo, "Aviary" is an exploration of bird behavior that suddenly and inexplicably ends with the birds on the baseball field dressed as players. The analogy Floyd was apparently attempting simply did not hold up; there seemed little association between the species in terms of movement. The only obvious connection (and something of a painful one) was that the baseball players had Orioles' insignia.
The incomprehensible conclusion was only one of the problems of this overly long work. With its emphasis upon individual variations the choreography did avoid the hackneyed notion of birds as all fluttering grace; however, it could not handle the scope and portentousness of Floyd's conception. Movements seemed to be strung together with no physical logic; the phrasing lacked the sense of inevitability in sequencing characteristic of well-crafted choreography.
More successful was the richly evocative score composed and performed by Joe Kennedy Jr. Eva Santorini's set of particolored tubes of cloth abstractly suggested plumage.
Also included on the program were works by Tobie Hoffman and Deborah Kramer, a former member of the Fusion Dance company of Miami. For her Washington debut, Kramer presented "Sueno Tropical" in which three women danced theatricalized tangos with handsomely stylized, life-size paper dolls. While the program notes suggested that this dance should have the aura of a dream, the atmosphere remained decidedly prosaic. This appeared, in part, a problem of performance; only Rhonda Holtz seemed entirely comfortable with the seductive Latin movements. It might also be fair to mention that the conjuring of a tropical atmosphere was decidedly hampered by the frigid temperature in the unheated hall.
Tobie Hoffman's "Tashlich" celebrated the water ceremony of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Unlike most liturgical dance, "Tashlich" was not an attempt to create a danced ritual but an imagistic commentary upon the ceremony. However, to the viewer unfamiliar with the tashlich ceremony, the dance was obscure, its props of seashells, child's rocker and scroll unexplained and bewildering. The choreographic design itself was not strong enough for interest in its own right.