Watching Goucher's Spring Dance concert, which opened last night at Kraushaar Auditorium, is very much like peeping through a window. There is a voyeuristic quality at seeing fresh talent presented without all the trappings of experience.
This can be both exciting and disappointing.
Goucher's program of seven dances included those of student choreographers Nicole Parise, Jonathan D. Jackson, Darcee Casey Majoris, Beth Veach and Margarita Jimenez, along with those of guest artists in residence Violette Verdy and Steve Koester.
This can be fairly iffy, for often the works of the professionals can overpower those who are just beginning to perform. It is to the school's credit that the majority of the non-professional works did not proclaim "student dancer."
Yet nearly every single one, with the exception of Ms. Verdy's and Ms. Majoris' work, had dramatically weak endings. And nearly all began with their dancers posed in the middle of the stage.
The more successful student works were "For Example" by Ms. Majoris, "Strung Out" by Mr. Jackson and "Satyagraha" by Ms. Veach.
In "For Example," Ms. Majoris re-examines Alwin Nikolais' invention of completely covering the body with a large square of stretchable fabric. Here the six dancers become abstract shapes, comically and wittily responding to both Lauri Anderson's music and each other.
"Strung Out," with its minimalist movements and clear, concise unison, was a sophisticated work to music by Pat Metheny. Despite intriguing patterns that echoed through the four women's bodies, the dance could benefit from further thematic development. It felt too short.
"Satyagraha," a ballet for four women, effectively captured the repetitive drive of the music by Phillip Glass. Dancers Phyllis Greenwood, Natasha Kirjanov, Amy McCall, and Nina Wolf were distinct and graceful.
Mr. Koester's "Still" is a lengthy work that, despite an interesting and often engrossing middle, has a vague beginning and ineffective ending.
Beginning with a diagonal, a single dancer initiates the movement theme that will echo through the dance's many sections. Mr. Koester builds on the solo, creating a canon and offshoots of the same theme. The performers enter and exit almost randomly. Sometimes they dance through a whole phrase. Other times they just make a brief appearance. The dance rolls over on itself, and patches of unison intercept solos and trios. Unfortunately, the dance suffered from having drab and unflattering costumes as well as an ending that seemed to be suspended in air.
The evening closed with Ms. Verdy's full-blown, flashy tutu ballet "Verdi Divertissements" to assorted selections of the composer's music. In eight fast-paced sections, Ms. Verdy manages to show off her flair for arranging loads of dancers in the space as well as displaying her students' talents. Most noticeable and often seen was Jane Overfield, who featured clean footwork and grace.