Professional dancers and students, emerging and established choreographers, mainstream modern and abstract performance: Friday night's 20th Annual Choreography Showcase was a mixed bag. As a whole, the performance was difficult to judge; all the pieces were good, but none stood out.
The showcase, organized by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and curated by dance critic Elizabeth Zimmer and choreographer Risa Jaroslow, featured select area choreographers. Presented at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center, the evening included work by Elizabeth Johnson, Maurice Fraga, Martha Curtis with Robbie Kinter, Bennett Savage, Rebecca Boniello and Christine Sandifer, Vincent Thomas and Kevin Wynn.
The sweetest moments belonged to the young dancers from Ballet Arts Ensemble of Fairfax in "O Susanna" by Savage. Though the work's sensuality seemed ill-suited for teens, the girls' glowing performance highlighted the beauty of young dancers enjoying movement. The duet "Rift" by Fraga, a University of Maryland faculty member, found Fraga and fellow dancer Ruben Graciani leaping into and onto each others' arms and shoulders, sometimes tenderly, sometimes antagonistically. The notion of "local" was broadly defined in order to include "Hasegawa" by established New York choreographer Wynn, who is originally from Washington. The four dancers in sleek black costumes moved with athletic intensity like animals on a hunt. The piece, which utilized Wynn's signature head rolls and lightning-fast arm movements, ended disappointingly, never reaching a climax.
The evening's other highlights included Johnson's clever solo about the nervous system and a charming duet about friendship by Boniello and Sandifer.
-- Clare Croft