Once again, choreographers all over the world are concerned with the projection of strong emotions. Meriam Rosen gives an American emphasis to this New Expressionism in her "Vestiges" for Improvisations Unlimited's performances through Sunday at the University of Maryland's EE Studio Theater in College Park. Among the Japanese "Butoh" choreographers and German dance-theater directors who have dominated the field, movement has often been secondary to image. Rosen creates emotion out of the motion she assigns her dancers.
The cast of nine in "Vestiges" is dressed in street clothes, and the performers' movements are taken from daily life. Such realistic detail is typical of the New Expressionism, but the uses to which it is put are stylized: All the clothes, for instance, are in shades of gray, conveying a sense of eeriness even before the action begins. Motion is unevenly slow, like in a dream. One character after another begins to undress and leans too far off balance, then stumbles across the stage. Next they fall into a sleep, but they are not still. As they lie on their backs, their busy legs propel them across the floor. When they wake, they freeze as if in horror.
Morton Subotnick's music, which accompanies "Vestiges," changes in volume and tempo and, in the second scene of the work, the dancers are warily alert, moving quickly. Yet it's still clearly a dream world.
Also new on the Improvisations Unlimited program is Jerry Pearson's "Zen Exercises for Limbs and Pins." It begins solemnly, like a ritual for four nuns and a monk, turns clever as the performers play games by manipulating simulated bowling pins, and ends up being overly cute. Works from the repertory by Jeff Duncan, Charlie Vernon and Dan Wagoner as well as a set of improvisations-from-scratch alternate on the bill.