Jackson, George, Dance Magazine
WASHINGTON, D.C., AND VICINITY 1993-1997 REVIEWED BY GEORGE JACKSON
This city used to think big. In 1976, 800-plus dancers assembled on the Mall in Liz Lerman's bicentennial choreography to Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. It still counts as the super event in dance history here but wasn't the era's only large-scale performance. Jan Van Dyke's dancers projected her choreography to a mass audience between innings at a sports arena, and Maida Withers's students performed in the Marvin Center's many picture windows for observers out on the street. Today, the solo is a staple on dance programs, and the multiple performances of previous seasons that featured one group exclusively are, ever more, merging into a small number of joint recitals. Yet new choreographers still appear at a respectable rate, and some seem to have staying power.
Kristin O'Shee has built a following with just two solos for herself. They are not unrelated. The first-born Site Visit (premiered October 29, 1994, at Dance Place), opens with motion unlocking from a stationary stance, like magic reawakening in an ancient effigy. Archaeological layers seem to peel away as the solo grows spatially, dynamically, and symbolically: the female form evolves through stages of the history of art, dance, and humanity. For an instant O'Shee oscillates to the other gender--lying on the ground prone and taut, with hands cupped like Nijinsky's Faun at climax. Suddenly she reverts, turning onto her back, spreading her legs, and becoming, perhaps, the Faun's longed-for Nymph. Imagery is rich throughout this piece, but means are economical. As a performer, O'Shee exerts a hushed power.
In Animal Prayer (October 24, 1996, at the Hall of Mirrors in Glen Echo Park, Maryland), O'Shee explores the body as a continuum of zoological images. Again, lean movement creates lush effects. O'Shee, as a bird, a human being, or a beast on all fours, projects the essence of being female.
Currently, to celebrate her fiftieth birthday, O'Shee is making Arc, a group piece into which she invited women writers and such established Washington/Baltimore dancers as Withers, Elizabeth Walton, Linda Miller, Doris Jones, Nancy Havlik, Rima Faber, and Mary Buckley.
Vladimir Anguelov also made his reputation with solos. Biography of Dancer #268XL37 reflects elements of his Bulgarian training in Soviet-style ballet. Using that school's bravura character dance in particular, he built a dramatic harlequinade for himself (premiered January 24, 1993, in Nagoya, Japan; awarded first prize at a competition in Loudoun County, Virginia, April 24, 1993). …