CHOREOGRAPHER/PERFORMER Blondell Cummings has seen a lot. Raised in Harlem, she studied dance at the Martha Graham School. She was an original member of The House (avant-garde artist Meredith Monk's highly acclaimed troupe), performed with a number of black dance companies, worked as an arts administrator and toured China and Africa.
Throughout all of these experiences, Cummings kept her eyes and ears wide open, and so when it came time to create her own performance pieces, she had material galore.
Cummings is, above all, a chronicler of the human condition. The fact that she is a black American woman lends a definite perspective to her emotional and detailed character studies, but that doesn't mean they can't be enjoyed by everyone.
In "The Ladies and Me," she delivered a series of affecting portraits of black women by means of a patchwork of shimmies, stretches, slumps and silent screams. "The Art of War/9 Situations" had her playing both a nun and a soldier, and, in the process, revealing some astonishing connections between them.
And then there's "Food For Thought," perhaps Cummings' finest work to date, which she will perform Friday night at George Mason University. Consisting of four "courses" -- "Chicken Soup," "Meat and Potatoes," "Tossed Salad" and "Chocolate" -- the piece deals with the social rituals involved in food and eating. By turns humorous and touching, "Food for Thought" employs a universal metaphor to get at the basic ingredients of human existence.
BLONDELL CUMMINGS -- Friday at 8, George Mason University's Harris Theater, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. Tickets $7, $6 for students and senior citizens. Call 425-3900.