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What's that? A Mark Morris ballet for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, in floppy Degas-length tutus, called Quincunx? The title refers to a specific pattern of five items, like the dots on a die. Quincunx is fast, confusing, and esoteric. There are nine dancers - five women and four men. If you really concentrate, you can sometimes see formations that relate to the number five.

Morris is doing his usual brainteasing.

Set to music by Donizetti, Quincunx (Place des Arts, Montreal, March 16-18, 1995) seems lax and unfocused, as if ballet's bad boy had run out of dance direction. Dainty and romantic with plenty of emphasis on limpid lines and billowing curves, it makes peripheral visual and aural jokes. It pays lip service to the classics with a sheer veneer that is deliberately fractured by renegade forays into break-all-the-rules contemporary ballet. It gives the impression of being a very well designed, formal ballet, yet for all its form Quincunx lacks purpose and substance. Morris's second ballet for the only Canadian company he has worked with, Quincunx is unfortunate puffery.

Aside from looking occasionally insecure with Quincunx's ambiguity, Les Grands' dancers attack with verve and speed. Under director Lawrence Rhodes, they are an increasingly tight and proficient group, with a special talent for storming the portals of contemporary ballet. They are particularly good when interpreting European choreographers like Jiri Kylian, whose Stepping Stones on the same program was stunningly defined by a stellar cast led by Anik Bissonnette.

Linde Howe-Beck

Founded in 1959, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba consists of more than sixty dancers trying, under current general director Miguel Iglesias, to create a distinct Cuban style of modern dance. But, as seen in a long program of seven works presented by a third of the company in Toronto (Premiere Dance Theatre, April 4-8, 1995), the company is a long way from achieving that goal.

The dancers themselves varied in stature and moved well enough. The problem lay rather in choreography that tended to cliches and went nowhere. Gestural vocabulary was often quirky and fast-paced, but unclear. The scantily clothed or naked dancers inevitably moved from darkness to light. Best of the lot were Narciso Medina's colorful street characters in Genesis, and Lidice Nunez's dark, masculine Trastornados ("Madness") convulsed by inner turmoil. But even they seemed to get lost somewhere along the way.

Lewis Hertzman
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Title Annotation:Place des Arts, Montreal, Canada
Author:Howe-Beck, Linde
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jul 1, 1995
Previous Article:Madame Butterfly.
Next Article:Los Angeles Dance Theatre.

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