Who is to blame if a crop of dancers and choreographers turns out to be dull? Their teachers, of course, the very people who seldom get the credit for the brilliance of a generation. The teachers' only defense is to show what they can do as performers and creators, and that is precisely what is happening at the University of Maryland. In a series of performances that began Thursday night and continue through tomorrow afternoon, the faculty of one of the most fecund dance departments in this part of the country is showing itself in concert on the College Park campus.
Alcine Wiltz, new chairman of the department, resembles a faun on stage -- long ears, curly hair, taut torso. He exploited this image in his own "Quotes and Misquotes," a gambol with three leotarded nymphs, as well as in a Cathy Ward solo. Yet the point of these pieces isn't the body's sensuality but its ability. Wiltz likes choreography that flatters the dancers' capacity to move.
Stern was the approach taken by Alvin Mayes in "Windjamming," a duet he danced with Harriet Williams. This opus tests the performers' skill in solving movement problems that sometimes look unflattering. Eventually, the dancers grew tired of the hard work and concluded, like Lawrence Moss' music, with a bit of clowning. Mayes' new group piece "Con El Corazon . . ." is definitely a study in lyricism. Perhaps it's also a rumination on being alone and not alone.
Meriam Rosen is a remarkable choreographer of feeling. Her "Thaw," in which Mayes and Cynthia Reynolds gradually warm to each other, is sensitively structured, though its end is too predictable. "Afterthoughts," Rosen's much-performed female solo to a Scriabin prelude, became almost new in Reynolds' impulsive rendition. The program closer was by Larry Warren, who likes to match movement styles and literary themes. This time, for the biblical story of the Creation, he chose German Expressionist dance.
Maryland's faculty doesn't teach because it can't do. Not only was the dancing able, but so was the music, much of which was live and by resident composers including Mayes, David Freivogel and Moss.