“All that is necessary to make this world a better place to live in is to love,” wrote Isadora Duncan. The revolutionary’s romanticism was on view in “Body/Soul,” a program by Word Dance Theater of six Duncan works and a raft of others, with that Duncan quote as its epigraph.
Saturday’s performance at Dance Place was clearly a labor of love, conceived by Cynthia Word, artistic director of the company, who also contributed choreography and performed as a kind of transcendent guiding spirit. She has a pronounced penchant for beauty, shared by her collaborators. Georgetown University theater professor Derek Goldman directed, with a light touch — though perhaps too light, as dramatic intent was not always distinct. The terrific Carlos Cesar Rodriguez accompanied several works on piano, playing Brahms, Chopin and Debussy.
Ben Levine’s lighting and set design transformed the black-box theater into a place of shadows and moonlight, and Judith Hansen’s costumes, with fluid skirts and layers of rich colors, were perfect reflections of the dreamy atmosphere.
Many of the more than a dozen short dances were lovely, some were whimsical, and a feeling of lightness and harmony was evident throughout. Yet a more nuanced range of expression would have helped set the pieces apart.
The most striking was “Dear Sylvia,” created by the longtime teacher and choreographer Julia Smith, and featuring Alison Crosby, a jewel among local dancers for the past two decades. She has such an individual way of moving, organic and sensuous, so nothing ever looks awkward or rushed. Here her dance of longing was flecked with whimsy, helped by nostalgic vintage recordings by the Italian singer Rina Ketty, and a thick bouquet of red balloons, which was by turns Crosby’s dance partner and her shelter. Melancholy came and went, chased away by the dancer’s light-footed buoyancy. This was a bit of hard-won wisdom of the heart that we can all embody.