Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's "Imprints on a Landscape: The Mining Project" failed to probe its material deeply at its premiere Saturday at the Round House Theatre in Silver Spring. Other portions of the "Mining Silver" program covered expansive territory, ranging from provocative to humorous.
"Imprints," choreographed by company member Martha Wittman in collaboration with the dancers, depicted scenes from coal-mining life. The work lacks theatricality; the text feels wooden, more history lesson than art. The Exchange often draws on pedestrian movement rather than dance vocabulary, but merely watching three women mime the activities of a housewife's day needs more physical and rhythmic variety. Only in "Kitchen Jig," as the dancers stomp their feet (as though clogging) while pulling each other along a series of wooden chairs, do themes like community and the intermingling of joy and fear in a mining town emerge in intriguing ways.
Artistic Director Peter DiMuro premiered "Preludes/Prayer," a soft, skimming piece that creates a world of people emotionally disconnected from each other. The work climaxes as the athletic but light Elizabeth Johnson places her hand between Thomas Dwyer's hands, a prayer for contact quietly answered.
The program also included Margot Greenlee's comedic monologue "Faith Pharmacy," Lerman's 1974 solo "New York City Winter," performed by Cassie Meador with a touching degree of vulnerability, and the clever "Hallelujah: In Praise of Animals and Their People," featuring an ensemble of young people and dogs.
-- Clare Croft