Dance is not an easy art. It takes more than just attractive bodies and technical training to make a cohesive and satisfying dance. TED, the professional troupe that draws area choreographers and dancers together with those from Towson State University, opened Baltimore's fall dance season this weekend with a concert at the college's Fine Arts Center that proved just how tenuous and difficult the art of making dance is. In a program of eight dances choreographed for the most part by TED members, only a few works had the sophistication and craftsmanship to be memorable.
The highlights came from TED's Jaye Knutson and guest choreographer Jan Van Dyke. While Susan Leslie Grubb's dance "Duet," Nancy Wanich-Romita's "Fleet-ing Innocence" and Barbara Rinaldo's "System Breakdown" each had their high points, too often they meandered around their subject matter. The most disappointing work came from Dana J. Martin. Her "Conflicting Reaction" for three women had neither conflict nor reaction. If the work were retitled "I Love to Dance with the Wind in My Hair," it might work.
"Luna," created by Jan Van Dyke to music by George Winston, auspiciously opened the evening. Intelligently danced by Susan Leslie Grubb, "Luna" created its atmosphere of moonbeams and lunacy by closely attaching itself to the music's phrasing and spirit. Ms. Grubb's movements were pleasurably balanced with long and free loping phrases, sharp gestural accents and soft silent moments. Ms. Grubb's performance had a free ranging and playful grace that reminded one of Peter Pan as danced by Twyla Tharp.
Ms. Knutson's duet, "Do It in Twos," was really a triptych that displayed the choreographer's off-center humor and inventiveness. Expertly performed by Ms. Knutson and Dennis Price, we first see the couple work out their differences. He uses his brute strength, she uses her wiles. Next, the pair mutate into VTC exotic flora that mechanically and mysteriously pollinate. Finally, the couple are equals as they spritely leap across the stage. Only the abrupt ending to the first section marred an above average work.
"Duet" danced by Barbara Rinaldo and the choreographer, Ms. Grubb, with point shoes as props, explored the concept of balance. The first section was engrossing, as each dancer teetered on the edge of balance, yet the following section, that had the pair sunnily dancing, could not dramatically compete with the first.
Making dances isn't easy. Watching TED perform mediocre works was difficult too.