Diane Floyd, who appeared with her Saturday Company at the Dance Place this past weekend, has a well-earned reputation as one of Washington's fine modern dancers. As she again demonstrated throughout Saturday night's program, her way of moving is appealingly suave, pliant and bold. Her technique is strong, her phrasing clear.
But being an effective choreographer -- crafting meaningful, expressive dance works -- is a different matter altogether from good dancing. Talent in one area doesn't necessarily carry over to the other. In Floyd's case, it's not easy to understand what impels her to pursue an activity for which, in the past five years, she's shown so little aptitude.
A new solo work, "Sanctum," made the point again. There were sporadic puffs of fog, shifts of lighting, accompanying slides by Janice Gorton on the level of sidewalk art, and live flute, synthesizer and vocal music by Joseph Kennedy Jr. that sounded appropriate to a video arcade. Against this background, Floyd moved and gesticulated in a rambling, enigmatic fashion.
No less befuddling was "Triptych," a three-part, 45-minute opus that had its premiere at the YWCA in 1983. To start with, why perform a piece originally billed as an important collaboration (with Gorton) in a space unable to accommodate the collaborator's work (sheer white panels were substituted for Gorton's painted cloths)? Why add words by T.S. Eliot to a dance purportedly inspired by the writings of Sylvia Plath? Why print Plath poems in the program different from those used in the dance? And why introduce, in the last section, an obviously untrained "chorus" of adults and children?
"Triptych," which used Floyd and her five dancers, plus a pastiche of fragmented poetry readings, a tape score by Dan Gibson and music by Debussy, answered neither these riddles nor others posed by the work. Melodramatic posturings only compounded the obscurity, and there was nothing in the erratic course of movement to keep the dance going or give it shape.