Every choreographer should have a perceptive and honest friend to evaluate work before it is unveiled to the public. Watching last night's program by three local dance makers at Dance Arts Moving Arts, one got the distinct impression either that no such analysis had taken place or that Richard Dunston, Nancy Havlik and Elly Porter take only compliments to heart.
At least Dunston is a gifted performer. A member of Melvin Deal's African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, he moved exuberantly, pawing the space around him, bounding high into the air and landing stealthily and silently. However, the two solos he presented looked like half-baked music visualizations, the choreographic equivalent of doodling. "Clap Your Hands One-Two-Three," performed to Ramsey Lewis' electrified jazz, was a jumble of mincing steps, bravura leaps, mumbled words and exhortations to the audience to clap along with the music. "God Knows Best" had Dunston jumping, jesting, flailing and beaming, all to the soul stylings of Shirley Miller.
Both Havlik and Porter take modern dance seriously but have little to say. Nor do they have either the technical capabilities or movement vocabularies to express their ideas.
Havlik, who has come up with more inventive work in past years, presented "Traverse," a nebulous quartet full of anguished looks and hackneyed movement. Why were these women so afraid? Why didn't their bodies convey that fear? "Fac ade -- A Fable" suffered from a similar vagueness: Why is this elfin woman donning a silver mask and schlepping a sack around the stage?
Porter offered a solo almost laughable in its pretension. "Woven Threads -- 1985" had her languorously lunging and preening while wrapped in a purple cloth. All jutting elbows and knees, she came off as a bargain basement Martha Graham. Porter's trio "Some Day ... " purported to speak to the issue of motherhood.
What one saw were three women cavorting aimlessly about with tiny cloth babies stuck to their fronts or, in one case, covering an entire robe. Labor was suggested by means of some very heavy breathing.
The program will be repeated tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 5 p.m