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Washington Ballet, Joyce Theater, New York, New York, January 27 - February 1, 1998.

The Chinese menu school of programming [choose one ballet from Column A--plotless, symphonic; Column B--semierotic; Column C--serial modern, etcetera) provides welcome variety, but it is an empty formula if the choices are not superior. That was the case with Washington Ballet this season. The gifted dancers performed in an assortment of styles designed to display a range of talent, but the absence of compelling choreography in each genre thwarted their efforts.

At least Sync, a rigorous exercise in postmodern ballet by Dutch choreographer Nils Christe, sustained interest. The geometric progressions of the choreography resonated in the design of a silver bridge that bisected the back of the stage. And Ludovico Einaudi texturized the repetitive structures of his score by highlighting woodwinds, piano, and voices at different moments.

Seven women sporting cherry-red leotards and black tights, and three men in black tops and Prussian blue pants, patterned the stage with linear grids and serial procedures that might have been spat out of a computer. Their arms sliced the air with sharp, intricate, geometric design as they lunged, piqued, pranced, or merely walked through their paces. The upstage bridge served as a barre to push off from or to hang on to, as well as a conduit for a line of dancers traveling sequentially across the stage. A pivotal duet for Alvaro Palau and Heidi Romero grounded the activity, for in their intense concentration they revealed the interdependence of human activity.

Like Sync, South African Ntsikelelo Cekwana's Savannah was a New York premiere. In the opening solo the lovely Ju Hyun Jo evoked the spirit of the veld's inhabitants as she stretched and shaped her body to a score lush with the land's aural sensations. With the tilt of her head, an angled elbow, or a guileless leap she metamorphosed from bird to beast.

But the mysterious, sensual atmosphere she created was not sustained in the subsequent scenes. Four hunters were relegated to tricky acrobatics and an awkward pas de deux for Cekwana and Jeanene Jarvie seemed totally incongruous.

Also on the program were Choo San Goh's Double Contrasts, which provided an adequate showcase for the company's command of classical technique and resident choreographer Lynn Cote's Icare. The vague relationship between this erotic pas de deux and the myth of Icarus was less disturbing than the absence of kinetic vitality. For Brianne Bland and Jack Hansen, in glamorous unitards, Cote's repetitive kick-turn-lihpose phrasing frustrated any allusion to flight.
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Author:Thom, Rose Anne
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:May 1, 1998
Previous Article:La Cenicienta.
Next Article:Jane Comfort and Company, P.S. 122, New York, New York, February 5-8, 12-15, 1998.

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