When the program notes take longer to read than they take to dance, it's usually not a good omen. But last night at Mount Vernon College, Women of Color Weaving a Cultural Artistry managed not only to explain their dances verbally in an unpretentious way, but to create dances that, for the most part, lived up to the words.
"50 Minutes of Spiritual Connection in Statements of Artistic Reflection" is a collection of five dances by various choreographers, with "concepts and statements" credited to Sherrill Berryman-Miller, that considered the politics of movement, combining western, Oriental, African and modern dance, exploring their connections and potential.
The program opened auspiciously with Denise Perry doing the most simple and complex thing a dancer does: Take class, this one a Graham class with a twist, as Perry, as if impelled by some universal, kinetic memory, segues from a contraction to an Oriental stomach ripple to an African hip shake and back.
Another solo that turned a simple idea into a good dance was Yolanda Ackles' "Finding the Spiritual Reflection," a dialogue between Ackles and her percussionist, Barnett Williams, whose drumming soared to the Hand Chapel's high ceiling before crashing down again, urging Ackles to dance faster, then dancer and drummer changing rhythms, dancer on the floor, still moving, begging the drumming to continue, begging it to stop.
The other three dances were somewhat less realized. The most ambitious, Berryman-Miller's "Internalizing the Apartheid Narration," was stately and dignified, but curiously without anger. Although there's sometimes more intellectual than physical energy on view, the program is worth seeing. Women of Color will weave again tonight at 8:30.