For those who remember Jan Van Dyke best for "Palindrome," a complex and intellectual piece as much puzzle as dance and her last major work before leaving Washington six years ago, the four dances Saturday night at Mount Vernon College's Florence Hollis Hand Chapel represented a surprising departure. Her choreography is still complex, and was impeccably executed by some of the area's best dancers, but these well-reasoned and beautifully constructed works were concerned as much with the poetic as the athletic possibilities of dance.
*"Luna," a solo danced to George Winston's music, suggests the moon, its powers and problems, in subtle ways -- circular patterns, the pull of tides, moon madness. "Lament," a duet for Mary Buckley and Alvin Mayes to a score by Tangerine Dream, comments on the isolation of grief. The dancers mourn separately. The woman becomes increasingly concerned with the man's reaction rather than her own feelings. They conclude with her dangled from, rather than cradled in, his arms.
* "From a Distance," choreographed and danced by both Van Dyke and Ann Farmer to music by Steve Bloom and Mike Vargas, was created, as the title implies, by each choreographer working separately on a common structure and rhythm. Not surprisingly, the work looked like two solos, Farmer getting trapped in her own feet and falling, Van Dyke scampering back and forth, with nervous, shaking hands. But both were complementary in a most satisfying way.
Sharing the program was HarBorn-Mix, as the partnership between former Cunningham dancer Meg Harper and Garry Reigenborn, currently with the Lucinda Childs company, is called. Their work frankly suffered by comparison.