RECENTLY, DOUG HAMBY spent a lot of late nights tuned in to the History Channel, watching a parade of World War II films. Mesmerized by the images of clouds and sky, he was moved to create a dance.
"I've secretly always wanted to fly," says the choreographer, whose company, Doug Hamby Dance, is in residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The closest Hamby came to flight, however, was teaching biology once at a Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England. Hamby's dance, inspired by the desire to fly, takes its name from that base -- Lakenheath. In it, a single dancer, who shares Hamby's yearning, is positioned against video images of the sky from World War II paratrooper training films.
"Lakenheath" is part of Hamby's program this weekend at Dance Place, sharing the bill with "Opus 98," inspired by last year's World Cup -- but catching a good tailwind from recent soccermania. There will be some other pure-dance works, and another dance-video collaboration dubbed "Calamus," after a series of poems by Walt Whitman.
In the latter, the audience will watch a live film of the dancers, who will be performing just out of sight. Hamby chose to put distance between the watcher and the watched to underscore a point about the subject matter -- friendly affection between men.
"It's something that we're shielded from," he says. "This positive image is held from us. So is this something we shouldn't see?"
Filming a live dance is an approach he's used once before. It involves working closely with the cameramen (in this case, two women), and giving up some of his control to them. But that's fine with Hamby.
"I have always liked to experiment, and I very much like to collaborate," he says. "It changes who I am, and what the piece is. It is, to me, very much fun." And it sure beats staying up late with the TV.
DOUG HAMBY DANCE -- Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7 at Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE. 202/269-1600.