The challenge of programming an evening of choreography for relatively inexperienced performers is to create dance that will acknowledge and expand their gifts without losing the audience. Three choreographers did just that for their Barnard College dance students last Saturday night at the Miller Theater.
Jamie Bishton offered two leads (Thea Little and Alfred A. Lance) and an angelic chorus of eight women the chance to be pretty, lyrical and elegaic in ''Things That Cannot Be Painted,'' a work led by Ms. Little and Mr. Lance and set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. And Janet Soares, the chairwoman of the college's dance department, turned her 11 dancers into solemn peasants engaged in a ritual, set to music by Arvo P”rt, which was flavored with abstracted Irish dance moves.
In ''The Concert,'' a new group piece by Karla Wolfangle that was set to Handel, eight women were elegant in a stately dance enhanced by black dresses designed by the choreographer. The gowns looked, however, as if they might be torn off at any moment to reveal the kind of savages that might have lurked beneath the harmonious surface in a dance by Paul Taylor, with whom Ms. Wolfangle performed.
Daniel Pelzig and Maguette Camara took their dancers a little further. Mr. Pelzig's new ''Powerhouse,'' danced to music by Graeme Koehne, successfully integrated women on point and in flat ballet shoes in a stylish romp filled with welcome sharp edges. The nine dancers sailed through choreography that looked demandingly fast and intricate.
There were no would-be African villagers in Mr. Camara's new ''Ohamana,'' danced to drums played by Mangue Sylla, Mohamed Konyate, Ismaila Bangoura and Mr. Camara. Instead, the choreographer allowed his 11 performers to respond to African dance as pure choreography, to exhilarating and revelatory effect.
Published: 11 - 24 - 2001 , Late Edition - Final , Section A , Column 5 , Page 18