The problem with Laura Crowne's concert at the Dance Place last night was not an uncommon one. Crowne is an able and appealing dancer of versatile resources. But the evening's choreography was seldom on a comparable plane of interest or worth.
Crowne is based in Virginia's rustic Fauquier County, where she established the Moving Arts Center six years ago, and her own dance troupe as well. Last night's program, however, was mostly solos, choreographed by Crowne, Candice Christakos, Sally Nash and Jan Taylor. Nash and Taylor also participated in the program as guest performers.
The most successful item was Nash's whimsical "Mother's Solo," in which Crowne -- with an apron tied around her warmup suit -- executed a quirky series of movement phrases while quoting passages from letters written by Nash's mother. The letters are about food, dining and cooking. The idea of a dancer trying to keep her mind on choreography while her head is filled with Mama's recipes is amusing. Even more so are the odd ways in which the culinary instructions get reflected in the movement, as in a recipe for wild mushrooms cooked in bear grease, in which Crowne's body is obediently "rolled out" at the right instant.
By far the longest and most ambitious effort was Crowne's duet for herself and Nash, "The Ground Between Us," involving dance, music (by George Winston), video imagery of the two dancers (by Grayson Mattingly), and spoken and taped dialogue. It's a dance about the sometimes complementary, sometimes antagonistic needs of choreographers and dancers. But the material was so banal on every level it actually made backstage life seem dull.
Taylor's "Who's There," a darting solo with brisk directional changes, was moderately diverting. And Crowne's "Of Mere Reminiscence," well danced by Taylor, was a curiosity -- a solo in the manner of Isadora Duncan, but lacking all of Duncan's musicality and passion. The three remaining solos, two by Crowne and one by Christakos, were simply ineffectual, obscure both in purpose and design.