Over the years, the Towson State University dance program has produced several dancers and choreographers who have gone on to contribute to the local and national dance scenes. The TSU alumni dance concert was conceived as a means to focus on the talents of those graduates.
But the third annual alumni dance concert, shown this weekend as part of the university's Maryland Festival of the Arts Series, contained few alumni. Instead, half the program was given by friends of faculty members or faculty members themselves. Of the eight works, only four had any direct connection with TSU alumni.
Two premieres were from '94 TSU graduate Robin Cantone. "Remnants," a saucy triptych to songs by Aretha Franklin, was danced by Ms. Cantone, Kristine Enright and Maria Totten, and opened the evening. The three woman shook their hips, shrugged their shoulders and saucily stepped in time to Ms. Franklin's music. Yet, for all the good feelings the work generated, it was repetitious and lacked a dramatic foothold.
Ms. Cantone's "Driving," a humorous look a look at life on the Beltway, had the thumb print of Mark Dendy in its spoken rhythmic counting, reminiscent of his work "Beat." It's a technique that is in danger of becoming overused, much like Laura Dean's spinning or Bill T. Jones' dancing dialogues.
Another '94 graduate, Jennifer Wright, premiered "The Road Not Taken," set to the Celtic tunes of Alasdair Fraser. Ms. Wright's dance was a pleasant, though predictable, trio that contrasted the unison of a duet against a solo.
Ms. Wright also performed in "Phenomenal Woman," choreographed by Kathleen Connolly Amalfitano, who is teaching at the Cultural Arts Institute in Baltimore. Set to the poetry of Maya Angelou, this was a fine example of how dance and poetry can go hand in hand. Marietta Hedges recited Ms. Angelou's lines, and Ms. Wright and Emily Reich performed spare and simple movements that complemented the words.
San Francisco Bay-area choreographer Evangel King created a quasi-theater piece, "Shedding Light 2," for Nina Nelson, an associate professor of dance at Western Michigan University. The work felt complete and well-constructed, but the accompanying taped ruminations by Ms. Nelson on her art and her life did not. Instead of smooth segues into the dance, the tape intruded like an insistent child begging for attention.
Kista Tucker, who holds a master's degree in fine arts from Ohio State University and who has her own company, performed her dramatic portrait "Maga" and presented "Fire Eyes, Knowing Eyes," a complex and challenging work for four women that closed the evening.