LIKE SO MANY artists these days, choreographers Stephan Koplowitz and Tish Carter have taken the movement form well beyond our standard notions of pirouettes and anguished contractions. In fact, one never knows quite what to expect from either of these individuals; each concert brings a new slant on things, yet another unlikely performer or prop.
Stephan Koplowitz, a Washington-born, New York-based fellow who delights in the movement abilities of people young, old and in between, makes dances about life as it is lived by the ordinary Joe or Josephine. Perfection and virtuosity are not his thing; he revels in everyday gestures and common experiences. There's nothing narcissistic or egomaniacal about his work, either, which is quite a breath of fresh of air in this age of the All-Important Artist.
Two sterling examples of Koplowitz's art are "I'm Growing" and "There Were Three Men . . .", which will be presented, along with three Washington premieres, as part of Dance Place's New Dance U.S.A. Festival. "I'm Growing," an on-target ode to teenage males, was originally created in l985 for six of Koplowitz's students -- ages 12 to 17 -- at Brooklyn's Packer Collegiate Institute, where he continues to teach and recruit performers. Peering at their reflections in imaginary mirrors, lining up, combing their hair, visibly agonizing as all adolescents must -- to a soundtrack that blends the bombastic theme from "Conan the Barbarian" with taped ruminations about growing up -- the performers present a highly affecting, subtly stylized picture of real life. More touching still is "There Were Three Men . . .," in which three males -- one in his thirties, another in his forties, the last in his sixties -- ruminate on various artistic and personal experiences and insecurities by means of movement, words and song.
Local artist Tish Carter works on another plane entirely. As much a visual artist as a performing one, her work is definitely the stuff of which dreams are made -- or vice versa. Alluring props figure prominently in many of her pieces -- gigantic white bones, a line-up of toy pianos, eggs cracked on mirrors -- and the way in which she manipulates these objects is every bit as compelling as the texts and gestures that float through her work.
Over the past decade, Carter has explored a host of far-flung subjects, among them the laws of physics, Victorian magic tricks, and love in Acapulco. Her latest program -- her first appearance here in two years -- features four explorations of myth "in relation to themes of insomnia, bread, invisibility and trees." Performance artist Prosser Sterling and composer Doug Quin are her collaborators on what is sure to be an unconventional journey.
STEPHAN KOPLOWITZ AND COMPANY -- Saturday at 8:30 and Sunday at 2. Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE. Call 269-1600.
TISH CARTER -- Friday and Saturday at 8:30. Mount Vernon College's Hand Chapel, 2100 Foxhall Rd. NW. Call 331-3467.